We have all seen companies that are constantly pushing to re-invent themselves based on what the competition is doing, or who spend too much time benchmarking their own efforts. Over at Harvard Business Online, Erich Joachimsthaler suggests that if the companies expended their resources studying the consumer rather than themselves and their competition, they would move from just a competitive advantage to a customer advantage.

Erich uses four new airlines as examples: Eos, MAXjet, Silverjet and l'Avion are doing things far beyond modifying their menu or adding better seats.
He says:
Four chic but cheap business-class start-ups, Eos, MAXjet, Silverjet and l'Avion have launched all-business-class flights on the incumbents' most profitable routes from London to New York with huge success. They offer new services for business travelers that are so obvious and valuable: extremely late check-in, fast paths through the airport to avoid the masses, guaranteed luggage immediately upon arrival, private departure and arrival lounges, and all-business-class seating at very reasonable prices -- even as walk-up fares. Two years into the launch it is clear that business travelers are taking great liking to these new airlines, which are beginning to get a lot more attention.

What do you think? Does he have a point? Do you (or your clients) focus on the minute details rather than really taking their industry by storm? Do you think you can discover radical change/fresh ideas while looking in the mirror or peeking into the competition's window?
I think we'd all agree that spending some time looking at how to improve what we're already doing is important too.
So, how do you find the balance?

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Drew McLellan is the CEO of Agency Management Institute, a company serving 250+ agencies to help the owners build profitable agencies that evolve and scale.

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