Imagine that you're a car dealer. A man pulls onto your lot driving a '78 Yugo with unpainted fiberglass, replacing the metal that has succumbed to rust. Vinyl racing stripes have been hastily applied in an attempt to modernize the car.
The owner of the car steps out, revealing himself to be a modest businessman. He says that he is ready to buy a new car. He knows exactly what he wants.
He's right, he has a very specific list. The car must be all wheel drive, mid-engine, and black. He wants a Lamborghini Murcielago. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the means or the resources to maintain a supercar.
"That's okay," you say, "We have a Porsche that fits within your budget, and requires far less maintenance, but it's rear engine, not mid engine. Slightly different."
"No, I know I need a Lamborghini, because I've seen one in my neighbor's garage," explains the buyer. "I will buy it right now for the price of the Porsche."
Unable to buy the car his neighbor has, the man leaves the dealership in his forgettable car.
We've seen this scenario play out with our own clients. Often a list of must-have features turns out to be an inventory of competitors' features. The client, believing imitation the key to success, refuses to give up any of their features. This greatly inflates the required budget.
Rather than choose a website that fits their business, they decide to wait until they have the budget for their "everything and the kitchen sink" web project. Of course that day never comes. The competition continues to outpace them, and as more players enter the market, the list of features continues to grow.
Competition research is important, but it isn't a replacement for genuine innovation. No business ever feature-creeped their way to success. Worse yet, you may just be copying the competition's mistakes.
Here's our best advice, regardless of the size of your budget: Just do one thing well. Find out what problem your competition hasn't solved, and provide your solution to your customers.