Never Underestimate the Competition

Craigslist

How many times have you exchanged emails with your team linking to a horrendous looking website?

It’s easier to poke fun at a competitor and underestimate their ability based on appearances, than to actually do the research. While, it may boost morale in the short-term, you won’t be smiling when your customers suddenly switch over.

It has become common for startups to discount competitors with ugly, yet functional sites. Whether it’s a larger corporation with too many flashing ads, or a smaller team with limited design experience, a landing page isn’t a true indicator of their performance. Unless design is core to your product, or you’re targeting a specific niche, an ugly site doesn’t mean an inferior product. The majority of people only care if a product solves their problem; everything else is secondary.

In addition to being surrounded by people with a discerning eye, you might also underestimate competitors with a smaller social media following than your personal accounts. Sure the first thing I do when I hear of a new startup is check their Twitter, but loyal communities can exist elsewhere. The number of followers hardly ever represents the number of customers, and neglecting social media marketing might mean their resources are currently tied up in killer email marketing campaigns.

Even as companies begin to realize the importance of mobile and acknowledge the rise of mobile-only users, there is still an ongoing debate on HTML5 vs. native apps. While you may dismiss competitors with HTML5 apps, their users might beg to differ. The majority of users might not understand the difference between the two, as they are just happy to be able to access the product on their device of choice.

Before jumping to conclusions, take a look at your competitors’ revenue and number of customers. Every company has their own priorities, which might be questionable, but there is no clear path to success.

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