Let’ say you’re a small business owner and you want to know more about your top competitors without spending centuries on filling out tons of templates and excel spreadsheets. A competitor analysis is an important part of a strategic marketing plan and I highly suggest you do one for your business – but don’t over-complicate it.
Before we discuss different approaches and ways to find information about your competitors, let’s see what a competitor analysis is all about.
What is a competitor analysis?
According to Wikipedia…
Competitor analysis in marketing and strategic management is an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of current and potential competitors. This analysis provides both an offensive and defensive strategic context to identify opportunities and threats.
Before we dive deeper into this topic, I’d like to pinpoint some of the key benefits of having a competitor analysis.
Benefits of a competitor analysis
- You will understand WHO your competitors are.
- You will know WHAT strategies and tactics your competitors are using. Often times you’ll even know what worked and what didn’t; more importantly you’ll know the reasons that led to certain outcomes.
- You will discover HOW to position yourself strategically and influence competitor behavior to your competitive advantage.
All these facts translate into:
- Developing better marketing strategies.
- Turning your competitors weaknesses (SWOT analysis) into your unique selling proposition (USP).
- Providing products and services in niches / markets that are under-served or poorly served.
- Improving your positioning along with the positioning of your product / service portfolio.
Now that you know the benefits of having a competitor analysis, you should grab a pen and paper and determine your top five competitors. Write down their names and everything you know or have heard about them. This should be the very first step in the process of establishing your competition.
Certainly you don’t want to rely solely on your own opinion or something you heard on radio or TV.
Before we have a look at different ways to find information about your competitors, I’d like to share a funny video with you. Why? Because I want you to understand the importance of knowing your “battle field” and whom you’re dealing with in the first place. You really don’t want to end up like the captain of this US navy ship 🙂 Enjoy the video!
Competitor Analysis: Know Your Competitors
Where can you find data / information about your competitors?
Most of the time, the data you are looking for is free and easily accessible. Start with a simple research on Google. See if your competitors have a website and whether they are present on any of the major social media networks.
* What products and services are they offering online, and offline?
* How are they positioning themselves?
* Do they have an integrated eShop, and/ or ar they using third party retailers such as Amazon & Co.?
* What do people say about the company (have a look at comments, reviews, tweets etc.)?
TIP: Write down three negative things about each competitor. As soon as you’re done with that, write down ten advantages of your company in reference to these negative traits / things.
Furthermore, you can look for resources such as annual reports, press releases, blog posts and articles, videos, price lists, promotions & advertising campaigns (commercials, flyers, banners, brochures etc.), fairs, trade shows, seminars and other events, patent applications etc.
One of the best ways to find out more about your competitors is to ask their clients, followers and fans why they value them and their products / services over your company and your product portfolio. You just need to have the guts and go out there to ask. You’ll be amazed by the answers you will get. Always gather first-hand information!
Ready to create a smashing competitor analysis? What was your biggest takeaway? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.