It’s not often you come across something brilliant online only to find that no one’s taken credit for it. But this recent article by the anonymous LayeredThoughts blogger on the advantages of having direct competition in a niche market is an enlightening piece that ties directly to the inbound marketing techniques we practice here at CloudTactix.

In his article “Competitors Are Awesome You Dummy,” the anonymous blogger I’ll dub “Dummy” explains how strong competition can actually help grow your small business. Not surprisingly, many of his main points, which I’ve summarized below, are crucial to the inbound marketing process:

Competitors validate your market.

According to Dummy, confirming the existence of companies that have succeeded in your niche means, quite simply, that your niche has a legitimate market – a market you can eventually move into and conquer. The existence of competitors that validate your market is crucial for inbound marketing, as one of the keys to a successful inbound marketing campaign is being able to dissect the paths of your competitors’ success.

When examining your competitors’ inbound marketing methods, from keyword use to site functionality, it’s crucial from an inbound point of view to be able to pinpoint what your competitors are doing in your market and exactly how they’re doing it – so you can do it better. Dummy argues that this is essential in building a successful start-up: the ability to “use a competitor’s progress as a motivator to crush, kill and destroy.”

Competitors make mistakes for you.

Dummy puts this a little more bluntly, claiming competitors “make you look great when they f–k up.” A little harsh, perhaps, but true nonetheless – a smart small business can take advantage of the mistakes of their competitors by using their mistakes as selling points. Dummy writes, “When you have no competitors, you are on an island when things go bad. You’re setting your own expectations for your customers.” This is a solid point. When your competitors make mistakes, customers in your market will inevitably compare your product or service to their poor experience with your competitor’s product or service, giving you a boost above the competition – at absolutely no cost to you.

So while your competition is trying new things and failing, Dummy suggests focusing on “simplifying and streamlining your product, optimizing your funnel, reaching out on popular social media channels” — essentially refining your inbound strategies — while watching and learning from what doesn’t work for your competitors. Great advice for small businesses in niche markets.

Competition makes you better.

Dummy is right to point out that even if you’re in a niche market with no current competition, once you “start executing and then eventually launch, as soon as you are public, someone WILL be coming after you. The day you launch is the day you put a target on your back.” Dummy argues that because competition is inevitable, small businesses should spend their time focusing on improving their product, service or business model rather than worrying about competitors invading the market.

People want the best of the best. This is why there’s not a search engine on the planet, in my opinion, that can give Google a run for their money. As Dummy points out, “There’s always a way to improve on someone else’s ideas or features, to beat them with your offering in terms of volume or price, to be faster or simpler or sexier or whatever. Don’t be scared, be better.” Take your competitors’ analytics and use them to your advantage. What’s driving their traffic? Where are their most loyal customers coming from? What’s working and not working in their marketing campaigns? What have they thought of that you haven’t considered? Looking into the secrets of your competitors’ success will help you improve your inbound strategy tenfold.

How has your competition improved your inbound strategy?