I was recently speaking with an entrepreneur whose company is in the same space as my previous company, Performable (which was acquired by Hubspot). He was asking how I thought they should compete with a particular competitor. This competitor is good at producing software quickly and extremely adept at copying its competitors -- they went as far as copying much of Performable's copy and product names after we were acquired.
The situation this entrepreneur is in is not unique -- this happens to most companies in competitive markets every single day. If you are doing something worthwhile, others are going to try to do it too.
At HubSpot we have competitors who copy-n-paste our copy and messaging daily. But the thing that none of these cloners understand is the thought that goes into each message and product -- the reasoning behind why we use the words we used and why we built the features that we built.
It's the why that is important, and it is the why that they are missing.
The why comes from genuine interest in solving your customers problems. Not knowing why is something you can't fake for long. Sooner or later, customers catch on and move out.
My advice to this entrepreneur was the same advice I gave my team every day at Performable: "Focus on customers, not competitors. If we do that, we'll win.” Writing software is the how, not the why.
Always focus on that why. Always focus on solving customer pain and good things will follow.