Be Curious About Your Competition… Then Follow Their Clues

Ben Martinez Ben Martinez, Employment Branding and Culture

It’s easy and feels good to talk about your competition and blame them for the reason your life is a failure. I get destroyed by my competition on a regular basis.

With Sumato Coffee, I study our online competition, follow the clues they leave behind and go for a different angle. With consulting, I study what big consulting firms are doing, then follow their clues and models and go for a different angle. You can make money and add more value this way and I thank my competition for their clues.

Not necessarily a competitor, but I often study Ezra Firestone, an email marketing pro. I learn a lot about email marketing that I can apply to my e-commerce business (Sumato Coffee Co.) and also my consulting business (Secret Tech Sauce Talent). I am curious about what he does and I follow his clues with e-commerce marketing and apply them to employment brand marketing to build talent pools.

Being curious and finding time to discuss ideas, and having the discipline to align actions with your ideas, is freedom. Do the work. The people who only want to gossip and talk about people will follow the competition but not do anything different. They are the ones with no work to do because they are too busy bashing everyone else, including their competitors.

Many people say Michael Jordan was friendly to his competition only to get intel into how they thought and how they played, then later used this intel against them. If I sat down and had a good cup of coffee or maybe a cigar with Michael Jordan, I bet he would tell me he studied his competition with curiosity. Now, I would not recommend going as far as MJ did on many levels with the competition (google his competitive relationship with teammate Scottie Pippen) but there are areas of greatness to study with him.

When creating an employment brand, be curious about the brand you are competing with for talent, but they do not need to be viewed as your hated competitors. Be a curious spectator, study them and go for a different angle, focused on why your service or product is better.

Many of us want good coffee. Many of us want good talent. Only some of us have the discipline to do what it takes to get both. Be curious about your competition and follow the clues they leave. This will give you the edge, OR it’s at least something to do over the holidays…

Ben Martinez

Ben Martinez – family guy, coffee critic, planker, and HR & Recruiting journeyman. He has successfully worked in HR leadership roles around the US and Mexico for Fortune 500 companies (Pepsi, Honeywell, and Energizer). Most recently he was the VP of People & Culture for HireVue, where he hired 400+ people in almost five years using video, social media, and created the employment brand, VueNation in partnership with HireVue.

Ben now runs his own consulting company, Ramp Talent, where they ramp recruiting and HR for startups. From recruiting ready-to-go talent to implementing ongoing best practices to preventing legal headaches, we build the first HR and recruiting systems for fast-growing startups.

PS – coffee is for closers – Ben founded an e-commerce subscription coffee company focused on re-imagining coffee in the workplace and home – Sumato Coffee Co. They only roast your beans within 48 hours of your order.

Ben lives in the SLC, Utah area.