In marketing we spend a ton of time analyzing our competitors. Where is Bank A building their next branch? What is Credit Union B doing to raise community awareness? How is this new online institution going to impact our attempts to reach the Millennial Generation?

In the classic SWOT analysis, the “T” stands for threats: what competition is threatening us today? Some marketing departments even spend tons of their time researching and conducing data analysis on their peers and competition.

Honestly, who cares what your competition is doing?

You should put far more of your focus on your audiences and niches than your competition. And notice I didn’t use the word “target” in describing your key groups. Why? Because target implies you are trying to shoot or kill them. No one wants to be a target. So don’t think of your consumers as targets, but rather as important groups you are trying to reach.

Ask what your audience’s pain points are. Learn as much about them as possible. Their needs and wants. Their financial dreams. Where they spend most of their time. What they do for hobbies. How they make financial decisions.

The more you know about your audiences—not the more you know about your competitors—is what will drive your marketing and branding success.

Ways to concentrate on your audiences include surveys, focus groups and just simple conversations with those you are trying to reach. It’s doesn’t take rocket science but it does take time, focus and energy.

You are not a marketer: you are a problem solver. And to solve consumers’ problems you first have to know what their problems are. Or you have to know them.

If you are doing the right things when it comes to your marketing and branding your competition doesn’t matter. But your audience does.

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