Business takes place in a highly competitive, volatile environment, so it is important to understand the competition. Questions like these can help:
- Who are your five nearest direct competitors?
- Who are your indirect competitors?
- Is their business growing, steady, or declining?
- What can you learn from their operations or from their advertising?
- What are their strengths and weaknesses?
- How does their product or service differ from yours?
- And here’s something I think is really important how can you collaborate so that you can both create a win win?
Start a file on each of your competitors including information gleaned from the web, advertising, promotional materials, pricing strategies and conversations with customers or suppliers. Review these files periodically, looking at their sales strategies, profitability, PR etc.
What to address in your competitor analysis
- Names of competitors – List all of your current competitors and research any that you think might enter the market during the next year.
- Summary of each competitor’s products – This should include location, quality, advertising, staff, distribution methods, promotional strategies, customer service, etc.
- Competitors’ strengths and weaknesses – List their strengths and weaknesses from the customer’s viewpoint. State how you will capitalize on their weaknesses and meet the challenges represented by their strengths.
- Competitors’ strategies and objectives – This information might be easily obtained by getting a copy of their annual report. It might take analysis of many information sources to understand competitors’ strategies and objectives.
- Strength of the market – Is the market for your product growing sufficiently so there are enough customers for all market players?
Ideas for gathering competitive information
- Internet, no one will no you have been snooping
- Personal visits – go on have a 121……
- Talk to customers/prospects – Your sales staff are in regular contact with customers and prospects, as is your competition. Learn what your customers and prospects are saying about your competitors.
- Competitors’ ads – Analyze competitors’ ads, flyers, brochures to learn about their target audience, market position, product features, and benefits, prices, etc.
- Speeches or presentations – Attend speeches or presentations made by representatives of your competitors.
- Trade show displays – View your competitor’s display from a potential customer’s point of view. What does their display say about the company? Observing which specific trade shows or industry events competitors attend provides information on their marketing strategy and target market.
- Undertake a value analysis with your customers, understand what they value in you and others, how can you improve?
- General business publications
- Marketing and advertising publications
- Local newspapers and business journals
- Industry and trade association publications
- Industry research and surveys
- Computer databases e.g. OneSource
- Customers, prospects, suppliers
When I meet people or companies who do it better, I use that inspiration and try to make myself better.
There are two reasons for doing it:
- I get better at something.
- I could eventually collaborate with them.
There will of course be times when you are both competing for the same piece of work and you may not win, but how you lose, and I am sure that is with grace, will say so much more about you, and guess what, you may still get a slice of the cake.
Competition is a game of balance and collaboration. It’s about win:win and you can “win” beyond your wildest dreams, if you do it right.
If you would like a 121 with me, I would be delighted to see how we can collaborate for success