While some companies spend large sums of money collecting intelligence on their competitors, the really good news is that you don’t need to. In truth, analyzing the competitive environment does not need to be an extremely complicated, expensive or lengthy task in any way. So, just what is competitor research all about and how do you utilize it to your benefit?
Competitor research should first take a look at what kinds of things competitors are doing right and wrong. What do they have that you do not? One of the biggest keys to competency is having a good understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses. As a business owner, you undoubtedly already know that you are a product or service that is better than most of what is out there. However, you must also recognize that you do not have the only product available, nor do you have the only market in existence.
When you start thinking about competitor research, it is important to recognize the fact that you need to pay attention to weaknesses, even if you believe that you possess strengths that make up for those weaknesses. If you spend too much time on your strengths – including your business model, your brand name, and your sales message – you may forget to take a look at your competitors. By paying close attention to their weaknesses, you will better be able to see them as opportunities rather than potential roadblocks. Competitor research should also include looking at what other companies are doing to make themselves stand out from the crowd. This may include hiring top-quality experts to conduct surveys, hire marketing campaigns that focus on those areas that need improvement and so forth.
Before you start your Competitor Research process, however, you should understand just what constitutes “Competitor Research”. You should understand that there are many different types of competitive landscape. You should understand that competitive landscapes differ across industries, types of businesses and geographic regions. Additionally, you should understand that competitive landscapes change frequently and rapidly. Therefore, your Competitor Analysis should not only be based upon knowledge of current market conditions, but should also be designed to anticipate potential changes that may occur in the future.
Competitor Research should first address weaknesses, in both your strengths and your competitors, and your perceived strengths. The weakness approach is one of the most common and one of the most useful in the business environment. You simply identify the areas in which your company currently lacks strength, such as technological strategy, customer service strategy, or environmental strategy, and you determine how you plan to address those problems. One of the best uses for Competitor Research is to identify your company’s” Achilles Heel,” which is its biggest and most obvious weakness. Once you have identified an Achilles Heel, you can then determine how you plan to attack that weakness, whether through an internal strategy or by engaging the services of a third-party, strategic marketing firm.
Competitor Analysis can also be performed with regard to each of your individual and combined company’strategy sets’. Individual strategy sets can include product and brand strategy, geographic strategy, financial strategy, public policy and political strategy. In this analysis, you would assess how strong your competitor’s positions are in key areas, such as technology, customer service, environmental, and government policies. Additionally, you can also conduct Competitor Analysis that compares your company against other companies in your industry who have similar products and/or businesses.
Competitor Analysis should also include comprehensive and in depth market and demographic studies, comparative analysis, and a comprehensive review of the competitive landscape. The information gathered during Competitor Research will help you to understand what the key issues are that your competitors are addressing, and where you may be able to complement their efforts. For instance, if you find that your competitors have a stronger focus on the development of Internet-based applications, you may want to develop an Internet application strategy that addresses this issue. This will give you an edge in the marketplace, because your application will have a higher chance of being successfully introduced into the marketplace by a potential customer.
Competitor Analysis is a vital component to any competitive marketing plan. To conduct successful competitor analysis, it is important to use a variety of tools that will give you a complete picture of what your competitors are doing to stay ahead of the competition. In addition, it is important to conduct the Competitor Research surveys on a regular basis to make sure you are always on top of emerging trends and new trends within your industry. Doing the right Competitor Research can take you a long way in competitive marketing research.