Of all the millions of ideas, thousands of articles and hundreds of books I must have encountered on marketing and business in general, I’ve never, ever had more useful advice than to spend time analysing competitors seriously – and not only seriously, but in the kind of STRUCTURED way I’m about to share with you.
Trust me on this. There is no other activity you can engage in that will give you the depth of perspective, the gems of new ideas, or the raw materials for a ‘battle plan’ that a proper competitor analysis does.
I warn you now – this will take effort and thought! But it’s worth it. Here’s how you do it.
Identify your six closest competitors. For each one, compare and contrast all of the following categories and use a table format, preferably on a large sheet of paper, because having all the information close together allows you to see trends.
- The products or services they provide and how they market them to customers.
- The prices they charge.
- What their customers see as this competitor’s strengths.
- What their customers see as this competitor’s weaknesses.
- Their customers – who are they?
- To what extent are there loyal customers?
- What if any devices they employ to enhance customer loyalty.
- Whether they innovate – business methods as well as products.
- Their brand and design values.
- Who owns the business, their motivations and style.
- Key people driving the business, their style and motivations.
- What you do better than this competitor.
- What you do the same as this competitor.
- What you do worse than this competitor (be honest!).
By carrying out this kind of structured analysis, you’ll uncover a treasure trove of insight: new product and service ideas, ways you can improve and win, your competitors’ vulnerabilities, where and how you can up your game, industry trends and opportunities… the list really is endless.
No business operates in a vacuum, and the internet has widened choice immeasurably in most industries. If you haven’t looked in detail at your competitors, you’re missing a big trick – perhaps the biggest ‘trick’ of all.
As in the rest of life, you get back what you put in here. So to get the most out of this exercise, you must invest at least 4-8 hours in it.
But do it properly, and I promise you, you’ll be blown away!
In fact, I predict that you’ll find it so useful that you won’t have any hesitation following my final piece of advice – set a reminder to repeat the process every 3-6 months, to ensure you’re fully on top of your competitive landscape.