To build a solid marketing plan, a competitive analysis is essential. You need to know who your competition is, what they sell, where, how, at what price, and what their strengths and weaknesses are, in order to make the right decisions, and see where you want to position your brand. Once you have a plan, and a strong sense of who you are, and where you are going, stop looking at what your rivals are doing. Sounds crazy? Hear me out.

It messes with your head. It is easy to feel like everyone else is doing it better, has more clients, or is making more money than you. You have likely heard the quote from Tim Hiller, “don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle”, but here are some actionable steps you can take to help get out of the comparison trap.

Stop following your competitors. It may sound crazy because you think you need to keep tabs on what other people are doing, but what good is it going to do if it constantly makes you feel like you are not worthy? Go ahead and unfollow the accounts that make you feel “less than”.

Find other sources of inspiration. This will help you from feeling the temptation to follow your competitors for “research” Are you a trainer? Find some fitness trainers to follow. Barn owner? Follow luxury hotels. Equine photographer? Follow wedding photographers. Find out how these businesses are marketing to their customers. How are they treating them? Learn from other industries to bring a new spin to the equestrian industry.

Tell yourself you’re the best. When you find yourself falling into the comparison trap, it’s not the time to be humble. Remind yourself that you are talented, that you are successful, that you have great clients or whatever it is that you feeling inadequate about and move on. If this is too weird for you, have a list of your successes on-hand or something you can look at to pump you up. 

What they’re doing might not work for you. Ever tried a recipe from a friend and when you make it, it just doesn’t taste the same? It’s the same thing in business. You can replicate what your competitor is doing to a “t” and it can lead to completely different results when you do it. Develop a strategy around your strengths, not theirs.

There is room for everyone. Just because there is another trainer/barn/athlete/business owner right down the road does not mean there isn’t room for both of you. You are unique and bring a different style into the industry than your competition that will serve a different type of client. Use this unique quality when promoting your business.

Look beyond. Don’t limit yourself to what your competitors have achieved. Companies that become iconic didn’t copy what Suzy down the street was doing. They go further.