why focusing on your competitor could be killing your business

Why Focusing On Your Competitor Could Be Killing Your Business

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

This well-known quote from Theodore Roosevelt is often repeated, but not necessarily heeded.

We live in a technological age that breeds comparison, whether we fight it or not.

Your social media feeds are full of your peers and colleagues showing off the very best of their professional lives. You know what I’m talking about…

  • “How I Increased My Facebook Followers by 124871 Zillion”
  • “How I got 3123095 Bajillion Page Views and Increased Conversions by Eleventy-Gajillion%”
  • “112049 Awesome Templates That Worked for Me and WILL WORK FOR YOU”

It’s easy to get caught up in this “success stream.”

When we see others’ success, we want that for ourselves. If the uber-successful offer us a way in, we’re likely to take the bait.

Unfortunately, that quote we talked about earlier is as true as any truth that’s ever been told.

However, we might phrase it this way:

Comparison is the thief of joy and creative, success-driving innovation for your business.

If you’re constantly comparing your success to the influencers, thought leaders, and gurus, if you’re constantly buying into what they’re selling and eschewing your own creative ideas to do it…

Something is wrong.

If you’re only focusing on your competitor and not your original ideas, you could be missing out on truly standing out.

Take it from me; I learned this the hard way.

If you're only focusing on your competitor and not your original ideas, you could be missing out on truly standing out. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

don't focus on your competitor

Personal Case Study: How Focusing on Your Competitor Can Kill Your Creativity and Conversions


To help my launch follow more “proven” techniques, and thus, be more successful (or so I thought), I used to copy “email formulas” and bounce off “successful templates” to create emails to market The Content Strategy & Marketing Course.

I’d use a pasted “proven template” to send infrequent coupons and updates to my list.

The formulas that industry gurus touted seemed to be so set-in-stone and guaranteed — and as a “launch newbie,” I was so worried about not using “the correct formula.”

In doing so, I made a mistake. I left my own ideas behind.

These emails, however, were not converting.

Then, one afternoon when I was exercising, I came home and had a “lightbulb moment.”

Inspired by nothing but a spark in my own brain, I came up with this email:

Guess what.

We had a 4x conversion rate on this email, whereas my past emails that relied on the experts converted zero people.

Read about @JuliaEMcCoy's #emailmarketing story: she left proven templates and examples behind and focused on 100% original content... and had a 4x growth in ROI Click To Tweet

My single email, written straight from my heart with no inspiration from competitors and no templates, converted 4 readers into course enrollees.

Meanwhile, the other templated/competitor-inspired emails converted nobody.

Take this as a hard-earned lesson:

Make sure you’re tapping into your own brain for creative ideas!

And don’t doubt yourself. Don’t let fear of the unknown slow you down. You’re in the marketing game for a reason – you’ve got smart, creative ideas in that head of yours.

My new writing course is open TODAY and enrolling beta students! 🎉 Don’t miss this 10-day opportunity to improve your writing skills. Enroll and save $100 with code BETALAUNCH2018.

I recommend that you start finding more “me-time” so you can get out of the day-to-day rut you’re stuck in, and tap into the power of using your own creativity!

Julia's #1 tip: find more 'me-time', quit getting stuck in a daily rut, and tap into your own creativity to see more success from your content endeavors. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Here are some tips that might help.

3 Tips to Stop Comparing and Let Your Creativity Breathe

1. Unglue Yourself from Social Media

With your eyeballs constantly taking in other people’s thoughts, opinions, and ideas, you’re crowding out your own.

Step away from your social feeds. For instance, if you usually wake up every morning and check Twitter first-thing, stop. Leave your phone on the nightstand and go make your coffee, instead. Or, read a little bit, take a walk, make breakfast… anything else!

Maybe don’t do this, though.

You’d be surprised at how refreshing it can be to skip even one scroll session during your day.

Unglue yourself from social media to find more inspiration, says @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

2. Get Some Fresh Air and Exercise

According to a neuroscientist, exercise could give your brain the creative boost it needs.

According to this Quartz article, “Exercise could make students more imaginative at school and adults more creative at work.”

Refresh your body and mind and get moving. If you can, go outside and drink in some fresh air to clear your head.

Exercise is key to more creativity, says @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

3. Indulge Your Creativity

Constantly comparing yourself to others, and constantly following by rote, can stifle your creativity. To help loosen the stranglehold these voices have on your brain, do a simple creative activity.

  • Doodle something on whatever spare paper you have lying around (according to Harvard Health, spontaneous drawing has tons of brain benefits, like easing stress and improving your focus).
  • Color with markers.
  • Write a 300-word short story.
  • Go outside and experiment with phone photography.

Don’t focus on perfection, but rather the act of creation itself. Nobody will ever see your efforts, so go wild.

Constantly comparing yourself to others, and constantly following by rote, can stifle your creativity, says @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Everyone Has a Unique Story – Let Yours Unfold

A key thing to remember is everyone’s path is different.

Your success will not look like anyone else’s, because it will be uniquely yours – a result of YOUR hard work, personality, skills, and goals.

Is a carbon-copy of success from following an expert’s advice or system nearly as satisfying as straying from the beaten path and forging your own story?

I don’t think so.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

It can be hard to make your way out of the comparison game to free your individual creativity. If you have additional tips, share them in the comments!

47 replies
  1. Stella
    Stella says:

    This post makes total sense, i have been spying on my competitors for back links and keywords and should stop doing that.. thanks for this awesome post Julia.

    • Julia McCoy
      Julia McCoy says:

      Glad to hear this was useful, Stella! I would still recommend using tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs to see what your competitors are doing and be aware of what you’re up against, but it’s not good to dwell there. You’ll see much more ROI by focusing on original ideas for your own presence!

  2. Nidhi Verma
    Nidhi Verma says:

    Very inspiring article for me. Actually, I always worked in the same format as focusing on competitor work. This article is an eye-opener for me. Thanks a lot.

  3. Alison
    Alison says:

    Thanks for the great tips, Julia. I’m all for using your competition as inspiration, but I agree you can’t focus on it to the point where you let it obscure your own unique voice and offerings.

  4. Steve
    Steve says:

    Playing with kids can also help you come up with some ideas, because kids are very creative. Surrounding yourself with people who think outside of the box can help you develop your creativity.

  5. Firdaus kurtis
    Firdaus kurtis says:

    This Topic is really Nice and informative so there is no doubt . I found this one really fascinating and it should go into my collection. I am very thankful for this . Keep it up.

  6. Naman Singh
    Naman Singh says:

    These are the type of posts that can help a person to do better in his/her business. Thank you for sharing. And keep up the good work.

  7. Silpa
    Silpa says:

    In starting itself it make sense that we should know our self than others.It was quit interesting to know the facts what are the mistakes we are doing (sometimes unknowingly).

  8. Bilal
    Bilal says:

    Exactly! Thank you for the motivation. Even I think to be aware of our competitors is really essential. But the real strategy to build the business and take it towards success relies on our own hands. The more we give time to ourselves \; the more we get to meet our creativity and that’s how innovation occurs. Thanks for this great piece.

    • Kristel
      Kristel says:

      You’re welcome, Alberto! We’re glad that we could help you get more information on this subject. – Kristel, Content Specialist at Express Writers

    • Kristel
      Kristel says:

      You’re welcome, Sankar! We’re glad that we could help you get more information on this subject. – Kristel, Content Specialist at Express Writers


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