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I ran my first half marathon in 2010.
I had registered a couple of months earlier when I was feeling fit and confident. By the time the race came around, I was struggling with a niggling injury, recovering from a cold, and the very opposite of confident…
My (now) husband was running the full marathon at the same time, from a different starting point; so I got myself to the start line and tried to not be overwhelmed by all of the other entrants whom I assumed were far better prepared than I was (or rather, was not).
As we were all awkwardly standing around waiting to start, I spied a woman who looked about the same age and fitness like me. She was wearing a Brookes branded hat, so I creatively nicknamed her “Brooke” and set myself the goal of at least keeping pace with her. My other goal was to run the whole 21.1km without stopping. No walking. No resting.
It was a tight start and it took a few kilometres for the entrants to spread out and for everyone to find their pace. I managed to keep sight of Brooke, and keep pace with her.
At around about the 8km mark, I was running comfortably with Brooke, and another man, whose name I can’t recall, so let’s call him Tom.
Brooke turned out to be very friendly and sociable, and was the first to break the ice with our unofficial group. It also turned out that her name was Kimberly, not Brooke.
Despite having different preparation for the run, we seemed to have a similar goal time, and decided to stick together while we could, and to help spur each other on.
Tom was struggling with an injury worse than mine, and ended up dropping off at about the 14km mark, but encouraged us to continue on. Brooke – sorry, I mean Kimberly – then started suffering from some bad calf cramps and had to stop at around 18km to stretch them out. She knew of my goal to run the whole distance without stopping, so shooed me on and said she would see me at the finish line.
Running the last 3km alone was tough, but I kept at it, and felt my first major running rush when I entered Adelaide Oval and crossed the finish line.
As agreed, Kimberly and I found each other at the end, and I was very happy that she had also finished, and incredibly grateful for her encouragement at pushing me on. Both before she knew that she was my target, and afterwards.
We soon became Facebook friends (as you do) and she continues to inspire me with her adventures and enthusiasm for life.
So what the hell does my first half marathon have to do with digital marketing!?
I’m talking about competitors and peers.
When I’m working with a client to improve their online presence, I don’t focus on who their competitors are.
While I do ask who they consider their competitors to be, I also discuss with them who they look up to in their industry – and other industries. Who do they respect, admire, and aspire to be like?
Focusing on competitors alone can be very limiting.
It can reduce our view to those businesses who are within the same geographic region, or are of a similar size, offers etc.
The Internet is the World Wide Web, so online, you can line up against anyone. Anyone!
Focusing too much on competitors can also take your focus away from your own business!
I once had an enquiry from a business who wanted me to remove all of their competitors from Google’s “people also searched for” list on their SERP (Search Engine Results Page)…
While it can be tempting to spend time googling your own key terms and seeing how you compare against your competitors, you shouldn’t try to destroy their positive results, but use them to inspire you to be even better!
(And if I’m being honest, it is far better to use that time working on your own business rather than googling yourself, and can actually have a detrimental effect on your rankings).
That’s why I take the approach of identifying peers and other organisations you aspire to be like, rather than focusing on your competitors. If you are performing well against your competitors, it may also cause you to become complacent. Whereas focusing on bigger or better organisations can keep pushing you forward.
- What is it that they do that you like?
- Is there a way that you can incorporate those things into your own business or marketing?
- Can you build a rapport with them online, and leverage their success by sharing their content on your channels?
- How about approaching them to work together on a marketing opportunity? Such as a co-hosted event, or guest posting on each other’s blogs.
I love the twist on the “grass is always greener” saying that inspired this post title. Rather than covet your neighbour’s lush lawn, use the successful people around you to inspire you on to your own success.
Like I did with Brooke.
Sorry, I mean Kimberly.
Feature image by fihu on Flickr. It has been cropped from the original to suit the format of this page header, and the homepage.