Deconstructing the Marketing Competition – Part 2

Photo by Vadim Sherbakov on Unsplash 

This is a continuation to Part 1 of my take on deconstruction. You can read part 1 here.

Deconstruction is discovery through disturbance. It helps understand beyond the meaning on the surface, dive deep to uncover new meanings and truths. 

Deconstruction can be fun as it not only satiates our curious instinct but also enables one to use their creativity in the discovery and inference process. 

But there is a level of discipline that needs to be observed. This discipline would require you to, first and foremost, respect your study subject. This is essential as there is no subject that is superior or inferior in their make. Deconstruction has to be objective.

Observing discipline would also help you have better control on your priorities in the deconstruction process, save time, overcome hurdles, achieve higher standards, keep you in command and give a sense of fulfillment during and after the process.

Start with a systematic approach.

The process of getting all the information together and making sense of it often seems overwhelming, complicated and tedious. So much so that there is little to no interest leading to the ‘dread’ factor when we do competition analysis. 

A single string can be tied in a hundred knots. To unknot a systematic approach is best.
We must first have a reference point. This is our primary objective. It is important to define it. It could be 

‘Awareness of what our competition is doing so we can have a first mover’s advantage in our communication and/or media use’ 


‘Understanding competitor strategy, both past, and present, in order to forecast the next move and counteract with an apt strategy’

Just define the objective.

The reference point acts as a pace mark that ensures we don’t stray in our quest for answers.

Next, with the objective defined, it is important to select what is relevant so we can save ourselves from being overwhelmed and, more importantly, hold on to our sanity. Also, this will enable us to uncover and understand the story correctly. It will lessen the scope of going on a tangent or simply getting lost.

So, select what matters.

And finally, we will have to sequence the data collected. Sequencing or setting the data collected in a particular order will help in comprehending what we have in hand. It will help us understand what leads to the next action in a predetermined order. And it will also help us in retelling the story of the competition’s actions, just as they intended it to. There is no point deconstructing something if you can’t put it back together. 

First create a reference point, select relevant data and sequence.

Moving on.

The Art of Deconstruction

Data collected....check.

Reference point, selection & sequencing....check.

Now we act as an observer, an overseer, and part philosopher. 

Stage 1: What is central and what is marginal.

When you see something, your brain works in a matter of nanoseconds to look for a reference point in order to collect & process the relevant information. This could be a report, presentation, movie, ad, campaign, an idea, a photograph, an image, a person. Just about anything. Our senses are constantly gathering information and our brain is constantly processing it. 

The happens naturally without us having to think about each step. But in deconstruction, we think about each & every step. That’s the curiosity instinct kicking in.

We question the purpose of each part, its role and so on to discover the institutional truth.
The important questions to ask are: 

Who is the hero?

This is the primary focus, the lead guy/gal, the protagonist – the central object of what you are looking at.

Who are the other characters?

Next, you look for the secondary factors, other components, the supporting roles – the marginal object(s) of your study. 

What is space?

The stage is the place where the characters, hero and otherwise, meet. This is where they perform their roles and the complete story is visible. This is the space where all components intersect and bring your study to life.

It is essentially where the story unravels. 

It is this space that you need to look at to understand how each component interacts with each other and impact the overall concept. 

It is here that you will see the obvious and not so obvious messages. The intentional and unintentional messages. The main and subplots.

Not unlike watching a stage play.

When we understand how all the components, both central and marginal, operate with respect to each other in this space, we will begin to see an established pattern of events, the story as it unfolds. And more importantly, why it unfolds the way it does. We will not only be able to comprehend what is happening but also how it happens. 

This stage reveals the intricate mechanisms that make stuff work. It shows us what comes first, what follows next, the hows and the whys.

It shows us the hierarchy of these pattern of events. 

If the objective of the exercise is to understand how and why things work, you can stop here. But if you want to reshuffle stuff, mix it up and come up with something new, read on. 

Stage 2: Mixology

Here we travel beyond the realm of the seen events. We dive deeper into the ‘What if’s’. 

You have laid out each component. You have established their hierarchy. Now it’s time to mix things up. 

An easy approach would be to invert the central and marginal objects. What if the hero is kept on the sidelines and another character is highlighted? What if a few marginal factors are highlighted together? What if we had multiple heroes? ‘What if’...? 

‘What if’ will be the most important question here.

This will explain what can be encouraged more, how it will impact the pattern of events. It will also reveal a number of different ways to arrive at the same goal. It will suggest ways in which you can have an edge over your competition. It presents an alternative approach. 

You must be mindful of the space each component operates in. This space should be able to sustain them and the entire narrative. The physics of the study subject if you will. These fundamental structures cannot be changed or else the entire narrative would collapse. It must be logical, consistent and coherent. You must aim to have a unified whole.

A pattern of events will set in motion recurring events and this cannot be separated from the space it occurs in. 

So be creative in putting things together and conjuring new conclusions, strategies, designs, and theories.

In the words of Einstein himself – Creativity is intelligence having fun.

Well, there you have it. My approach to deconstructing competition. Or anything for that matter. These are the basic principles I use.

Final Thoughts

Perfection is man-made. Ergo, it is not perfect.

Anything we do, have or understand can only be perfect for a finite amount of time. And we have to get working once that time is up to be perfect again. 

If this world is perfect then there would be no scope for improvement. Ergo, no progress. And we will all come to a standstill. So to be truly perfect one would have to embrace, accept the imperfections so the work on improvement continues with imagination and evolved efforts. 

We must instead strive for excellence rather than aim to be perfect. This will help us be at the forefront of the never-ending race. And one way to achieve this excellence is through deconstruction. 

There are many ways to excel. If you do a simple search for a ‘how-to’, the search results would be in the millions. Some may be too simple, complex, fundamental or simply academic to adopt.

My first complete, edited and perfected work on ‘Deconstruction Marketing Competition’ got deleted in a way that it just could not be recovered. And now I have deconstructed my thoughts yet again to write this down. 

My faith in deconstruction has been tested. And I have endured.