How many times have you heard this cited as a reason for not marketing a company, particularly in relation to marketing the brand online? 

If you’re like me and are involved in mentoring businesses and individuals on matters relating to online branding and marketing, you’ll probably have heard this many times, and thought about all the missed opportunities that have passed them by.  And if you’re one of the many people who live by this rule, take note of the following reasons why you should ditch this old approach and start talking about your business online and offline!

 1. Do or Die. If you’re hiding from your competitors, you’re also hiding from your customers.  This is not going to help you to grow your business.

2. Prying Eyes. Contrary to the popular myth, your competitors do not scrutinise what you are doing daily – perhaps not even weekly or monthly. Do you look at what they are doing on a daily basis?  I doubt it.  Evidently, we come across our competitors marketing activity from time to time and actively look for it occasionally, but for the most part, we’re all too busy doing our own jobs to get hung up on the specifics of what others or doing (or at least we should be).

3. On the other hand, if your competitors do spend excessive amounts of time looking at what you are doing, you have to ask yourself why? We all have those anonymous LinkedIn profile viewers, don’t we?  This may suggest that they aren’t very busy, or lack the skills and creativity to come up with their own ideas and are looking for inspiration in what you do.  Be flattered.  If they think you’ve got something worth copying, you’re probably really good at what you do.

4.  Lead, not Follow. It doesn’t matter if your competitors try to copy what you do, you did it first and by the time they try to copy your last campaign, you’ll be busy with your next big idea. Lasting competitive advantage is gained by leading the way, not following.

5. Authenticity is Hard to Copy! If you’re being true to yourself or your brand, this authenticity isn’t so easy to copy anyhow. So live your brand and watch it grow your business, regardless of the competition out there.

6. Competition is healthy. We all get too bogged down with the daily tasks sometimes and those ideas we’ve had for a long time remain just ideas…. until someone else actually starts implementing them.  After you’ve given yourself that sharp kick up the backside for letting it happen, it spurs you into action.  Finally your complacency is shelved and you focus on making your goals a priority.  We’ve all been there.  At this point you should probably be thanking your competitors.

7.  Competitors or Co-conspirators? Your competitors are not always a dark and devious lot that you should stay well clear of (well, most of them aren’t anyhow). Often you have much in common, and these people are often the first to support your efforts with a like and share…. or even a ‘well done!’  We live in an era where the best business minds know the benefits that can be gained from collaborating with other industry specialists and celebrating each other’s successes, rather than viewing each other as the enemy.

8. Show off Your Assets! One common fear of marketing a business online and promoting the skills of key members of your team – particularly in services businesses – is the underlying concern that they will be poached by a competitor, and indeed this is a possibility. But if your employees are good at what they do, competitors or recruiters probably already know who they are or how to find out, and your staff are also smart enough to know how to market themselves to others.  So rather than worrying about things you can’t control, celebrate the talent among your team and focus on showing your appreciation for their efforts, so that they know they are valued and don’t want to leave.

9. Glass Half Full or Half Empty? There are many more pros than cons to adopting the ‘glass half full’ over the ‘glass half empty’ approach. You only need to look at success stories like Virgin Group, under Richard Branson’s leadership.  How many other bosses have the confidence to follow his lead and offer staff unlimited holiday entitlements?  Not many, I’ll bet!  But being a trend setter in your industry rarely goes unnoticed so get out there and fill your glass!

10. Plenty for Everyone. Finally, there’s enough business out there for all of us if you know where to look. It’s fair to say that some sectors are incredibly competitive, perhaps even saturated but successful businesses identify new and niche areas where they can excel.  Give your competitors due consideration, but don’t overestimate them to the point where you underestimate or undersell yourself and thus fail to reach your full potential.

If you’re not actively marketing your business online, it’s time to develop and implement your digital marketing strategy.  We’re back to where we started – do or die, and no-one wants to be left behind!