Conducting Competition Analysis

Have you taken a good look at what your competitors are doing? Have you ever thought – I don't have any competitors, my product or service is one-of-a-kind? Well, we all have competitors. If you think you don't, you do. It's true, you may have a very specific niche or one-of-a-kind product or service, but there are still other things that compete with it. If you don't have a direct competitor now, there is always the threat of potential competitors.

So, how do you determine who you competitors are?
First, look at your target market and the product or service your company offers and why customers need it. You must first understand this before you can go on to figuring out your competitors. Is there anyone else who has the same target market, offering similar products or services? This is what I call a direct competitor.

If you can't come up with three direct competitors, then start to think outside the box. Who has my same target market and is competing for the same dollars or time?

As an example, I'll use a place I worked at years ago.  I worked at a local newspaper throughout a large portion of my career working in marketing. I worked in markets where there were no direct competitors. The newspaper I worked at was the only and best local newspaper around. However, we had many in-direct competitors – the Chicago Tribune, the news on TV and radio, the internet, etc.  Even though they did not offer the exact product, they did compete for the same time and money. It takes time to read about your local news, so our biggest competitor was often other products that competed for our potential reader's time.

Once you know who your competitors are, you need to conduct a thorough competitive analysis. How are they marketing themselves, what is their pricing, how is their service, what are their strengths and weaknesses, etc.  Look at their website. How is their website better/worse than your company's website? Do they have pricing on it? How is their response to website inquiries? What can you learn from the website?

Then, try to find out where/how they are marketing and/or advertising. Do they network? If so, where do they network? Do they advertise? Look in newspapers, trade publications, anywhere that you think they may be advertising. Get a hold of their ads and critique them. What are their specials, sales, guarantees, headlines, etc.?  What is their brand messaging?

Perhaps having a mystery caller or sending in a mystery shopper would be of benefit. The best way to do this is with an experienced mystery shopper. This may help you determine the quality of customer service, unadvertised promotions, first impressions of the place of business, etc.

Knowing as much about your competitors as possible will greatly assist you in determining how to market yourself and what brand messaging will be most successful in marketing to your prospects. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses, as well as your company’s own strengths and weaknesses can also assist in making your products and services better.

CreativeXchange Marketing offers mystery shopping and competitive analysis. For more information, please contact us.

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