The same is true as we’re building our brands. We want our followers to seek us out, mull over what we have to offer them, and in the long-run, become raving, loyal fans. (Is it too much to ask?)
I’ve seen plenty of articles that cater to the mantra, “Don’t compare yourself to others – just be you!”
While this is true, there are also many benefits to making sound comparisons between your brand and the others already available.
After all, your potential followers will be comparing you to the likes of your competitors, and in the end, you want them to choose you.
But you guessed it – there’s a catch (isn’t there always?). Comparing your brand to others is a great way to make sure you’re filling a void in your industry, but get sucked into the comparison vortex for too long, and it can break your confidence in your ability to become a top name.
This is an especially fragile balancing act during your brand’s growth process. Here’s how to make sure all comparisons end in your favor:
When to Compare Your Blog to Others…
Compare Your Blog to Remain Diverse
Creating a successful brand is a constant evolution. Make sure you stay on top of what’s going on with the top blogs in your niche as inspiration to increase the quality of your own, and to ensure you’re not repeating content that’s already available.
Compare Your Blog to Benchmark Your Own Standards
You like certain brands for certain reasons, and you should clearly define those reasons to create your own set of standards for your brand. You’re not doing this to emulate others in your niche, but as a way to figure out where you brand belongs.
Compare to Inspire Ideas for Content
Use what others are publishing in your niche as part of your brainstorming process when planning new content. By doing so, you’ll ensure you’re offering your followers unique insight and motivation to help them create their own success.
Compare to Inspire Innovation
Compare your brand to those in your industry to create innovative products and services. Create breakthrough resources for your followers no one has thought of yet, or that are a new spin on old concepts your followers are already familiar with.
Compare to Fill a Void
By studying other brands in your industry, you’ll be able to figure out what information, products and services aren’t being provided (or aren’t being provided well) to give yourself a leg up.
Compare to Create Future Partnership Opportunities
To go with the concept of filling a void, figure out what other brands do amazingly well, as well as what you do amazingly well that could spark potential partnership opportunities. Find where other brands fall short, and use your research to begin connecting with others to better your industry as a whole.
When going through the comparison process, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do they do well?
- What don’t they write about?
- How often do they post?
- How long are their posts?
- Who is their target audience, and what level of learning do they cater to?
- What questions or comments do their readers post?
- What is good vs. bad about their brand design?
Again, this exercise isn’t to copy what other brands are already offering, but to figure out exactly where your brand fits in your industry so you can clearly define the unique contribution you’re going to make.
As Darren Rowse once mentioned on Problogger:
“In asking these types of questions you will often find gaps in the niche that others are not writing about that your blog might be able to fill. You’ll also have a good feel for what is working and not working for others, might have some possible ideas for connecting with other bloggers in your niche, could come up with some potential post topics, etc.”
…and When Not To
While it’s important to study what others are doing in your niche, don’t compare to a point where you’re sacrificing your unique voice in the process. Comparing should only be used as a learning tool to enhance your own authenticity.
As John Acuff said, “Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”
If you’re comparing yourself to someone who has been blogging for several years longer, your comparisons are inaccurate and you’re being completely unfair to your brand, and yourself.
Getting upset that your competitor receives 100,000 page views when you only receive 10 will cause you to put unnecessary pressure on yourself to perform at an unrealistic standard.
Focus on where your brand is now, and on your own growth process. Use your competitor’s blog as a guide for where you want to be one day, but don’t expect to be there tomorrow.
Set intentional goals, and refer back to your goals each time you get sidetracked or discouraged (and don’t feel bad for getting discouraged; it happens to all bloggers, even top bloggers.)
No matter the level of success you reach, there will always be a brand that’s larger than yours. There will always be a blog that receives more traffic. There will always be a new mountain for you to climb, but make sure it’s your mountain you’re climbing.
Comparing too much will cause you to idealize those who have already become successful. All we see are the external results of their internal struggle to get where they are. We have no idea the level of struggling, sacrifice and determination it took them to get to where they are today.
Use comparisons as a benchmark for your own excellence, not to become a replica of someone else.
We all reach our success differently because how we define success is different. Ultimately, the only brand you should be competing with is your own – aim to outdo yourself each time you step into your office, and the level of satisfaction you’ll feel about your progress is priceless.
Focus on what makes you unique. Focus on how you’re going to differentiate your brand in your industry, and the qualities you bring to the table that your followers should find important.
Soon, you’ll have a lineup of bloggers who are using your brand as a research tool for their own success.
“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”