When you’re running a business there are certain key, high level factors you need to be aware of that affect your chances of success – or perhaps more urgently, failure. These aren’t detailed, individual issues – the price of individual products, or the timing of specific sales – they’re the top level of your concerns, principles from which those specific issues emerge. The three most important are a triangle formed by your customers, your competitors and the economic background informing the spending decisions of the other two.
Today we’re talking about the competition: do you know who yours is? Can you guess what their plans are? And do you have a competitor strategy to help you come out on top?
Who are your Competitors?
Identifying the competition may be the most important step you can take, but it’s not an easy one. The scope of the businesses who can compete with you change depending on the sort of service you offer – a fixed, physical service like hairdressing has largely local competition. You need to look for other businesses within easy travel of your address.
Specialist services may be further flung, with the web bringing digital marketers, for example, across the world no further away than your computer screen, but even then familiarity with language and local markets winnow the herd to a finite number.
Retail is where tracking your competitors can get challenging – it’s become a global market, and as well as individual businesses the world over, you also have to account for giants like Amazon.
It might be helpful for you to get some help at this stage: competitor researchers can do the heavy lifting in finding the businesses who meaningfully compete with you over customers and revenue and identifying the ones you should prioritise.
What Makes You Stand Out?
It’s also important for you to know what distinguishes you from your competitors – when customers look at you alongside your closest rival in the field, what differences do they see? What makes them choose you? And what makes them choose your rival?
Understanding your perception among customers (what we might call your brand) is also vital for creating an effective strategy for dealing with the competition.Market research companies can reach customers in a broad cross section and come back with both data and meaningful insight helping you understand what customers see in your business so you can plan to lean into your strengths and remedy your weaknesses as part of a targeted strategy for living alongside your competitors.