How you communicate as a business or organization determines how your audience interacts with you. Before a you can stand out in a marketplace, you must become familiar with its competitors.
Your business or organization faces competition. Even if you aren’t aware of every one of your competitors, they are out there and they are driven by the same motivation you have to gain customers and clients and achieve success. Some competitors are obvious, such as other businesses or organizations that market the same products and services to the same base of customers, often within the same geographical area. You are aware of these competitors through their advertisements and marketing, or through word of mouth. But what is happening in your industry or market that you aren’t aware of, and how do you gain that awareness and the competitive advantages that go along with it?
Always Consider Your Competition
A business or organization can fail simply by underestimating or being unaware of competition. If you choose to ignore your competitors or fail to seek them out based on the belief that your business or organization is inherently superior, you will be unequipped to deal with a disruption in the marketplace caused by a new competitor, a new product or service from an existing competitor or an effective sale or discount offered by a new or existing competitor. It is vital that all businesses and organizations be aware of the competition and equips themselves with the knowledge and insight needed to compete and succeed in the marketplace.
Track Your Industry
To begin, it is important to track your industry, not just your local market. Experts and industry analysts at trade organizations and consulting firms regularly report on specific industries through magazines, blogs and email reports. These groups can provide invaluable insight into the current state of your industry and can identify competitors and market needs that may provide a valuable “leg up” for your business or organization.
Research Is Key
Next, it is important to identify and research your direct competitors. Searching Google, business directories, and even the phone book can provide a good starting point for identifying your competitors. You may have also noted advertisements and marketing materials, including radio and television advertisements, flyers, brochures, and Internet keyword ads. Some of the best places to identify competitors are at Chamber of Commerce meetings and events, trade shows and other professional gatherings.
Word Of Mouth
You can also gain insight from your customers or clients. Simply asking a customer or client about their previous experiences with a competitor can provide valuable, real-world insight into your competition. Finally, it can be valuable simply calling, emailing or visiting a competitor in-person and requesting information in the same manner as any other potential customer.
Products And Prices
Two of the most important factors to monitor in your competition are the products or services they provide, especially new or expanded inventories or featured products, and the prices they are charging for these products or services. It is vital to know if your competitors are undercutting your prices or promoting a larger, more diverse selection of products or services in order to draw customers or clients away from your business.
Next, it is vital that you study the other aspects of their business – are they providing a more seamless shopping experience, or delivering products or services faster? Are they offering more robust customer support options, or expert repair and maintenance services? Finally, are they successful, or are they working to turn around a failing business?
Gain Competitive Edge
Once you have obtained this information, it is important to correctly process and interpret it in relation to your business. Are your competitors out-performing you with lower prices and better service and support options? Are your competitors under-performing in relation to your business? Finally, what are your competitors doing that is indistinguishable from your business or organization, leading to poor differentiation in the marketplace? Quickly and correctly identifying these points and implementing changes to your own business or organization can give you a valuable competitive edge.