“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
You may be wondering why it would make sense to look to the Art of War for business advice, especially since it was written in 500 B.C.
The fact remains that even in today’s competitive landscape, Sun Tzu’s philosophy holds true. Running a business is increasingly more difficult as the competition has become more global. Knowledge of your competition will give you an indisputable advantage and learning the competitions’ strengths and weaknesses will help you to identify new opportunities.
To gain competitive intelligence, you need to collect and analyze data on their products and marketing strategies and use it to support your own business decisions.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean that you’re going to create a carbon copy of their brand, copyright laws tend to get in the way of things like that. Instead, apply the knowledge to create your own unique value proposition, improve your products and services as well as uncover untapped markets.
“Know thy enemy”
It might sound simple, but this is one of the most crucial steps in successful analysis. It’s easy to be daunted by the industry giants that may be in your sphere. For instance, if you were a small retail business, it would be pointless to compare yourself to an Amazon. Start smaller.
- WHO is my target customer?
- WHAT problem does my product/service solve?
- HOW am I solving the problem and what makes me stand out from others?
Then start thinking of the 3 to 5 competitors who:
- Solve the same problem for the same customer with a similar product/service, in other words, your direct competition.
- Solve the same problem for the same customer with a different solution.
- Solve the same problem, in a similar way but for different customers.
While searching for these competitors, it’s good to remember, Google is your friend! Do an online search for your product or service category and look at the top search results and ads. More likely, than not you’ll find them all on the first page.
“The use of spies”
No, we’re not talking about corporate espionage, again there are laws against those things. Your “spies” are the countless people talking about your competitors’ and your products on social media, online forums, and news media.
Media monitoring tools not only help you to keep track of competitors but keep the data all in one place. The main benefit of using these tools that you don’t have to actively search for the data. The data comes to you. The second a mention appears on a media profile of the competitors you are tracking, that mention will appear in your feed. You will have the ability to create notifications about new mentions, usually via email, but some tools can integrate with Slack or Trello
Whether it’s through social media, online forums or news updates, media monitoring tools can immediately notify you about new product announcements, marketing campaigns, new content, pricing, etc. They allow you to track exclusively your competitor’s website or social media profiles and see what people are saying about them.
Through sentiment analysis, you will be able to understand their online reputation and find areas that require improvement where you can step in and gain leverage. Some tools allow you to also see population maps which show the areas where their customers are located, use these to discover markets that may not be saturated yet.
Conclusion: “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”
The point of a competitive analysis isn’t to overly focus on the competition but to better understand your own place in the market.
Do not engage in unnecessary rivalries with your competitors but instead choose to find opportunities to differentiate. Find the gaps between supply and demand and use that information to focus on ways to better serve your customers and find new markets where your competitors are not yet located.
Looking to learn more about your own competitive analysis, but aren't quite sure where to start? Luckily, we offer this service. Contact us and we can help you get started.
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