Every great idea or vision has challenges in front of it to prevent it from being realized. By understanding and defining what the challenges are, you can begin to work a strategy to overcome them. In regards to marketing, we’ll focus on the competition to your product or service.
The marketing battle isn’t black and white
People’s understanding and recognition of competition vary greatly.
Direct and Indirect Competition:
Some people get started in developing a product, service or business and are too quick to think that they don’t have any competition. They believe their product and service are so great or different that they have nothing to compete against. This is completely untrue, even in the rare circumstance where they truly do have a unique product. Even the best ideas still have to compete for awareness of their product and the purchase of their product over something different.
If someone is selling a unique cake that is truly remarkable and no one else has another cake close to it, they still have to get the attention of prospective customers and need them to decide to purchase the cake over something else, like pies.
Most people however don’t fit that model. Most people have products or services very similar to other companies and have a lot of competition. In almost every industry, earning attention for your product or service has become really competitive because consumers continue to demand better service and quality.
For assessing the competition out in the marketplace we must do some research. We can perform a SWOT Analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. You may have performed similar research when creating a business plan. Before even starting a business it’s critical to research and know the competition.
In this instance of performing a SWOT analysis, we’re assessing from a marketing perspective. We want to understand the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats in regards to many different elements of marketing. From Branding, Tools to Marketing Messaging, we’ll break it down.
Depending on which stage your business is in and your marketing goals, you may decide to do a high-level SWOT or get very detailed in a more granular detailed SWOT. In many cases performing a high-level overview of the competition can be sufficient to give you insights to make educated decisions in your marketing.
Areas to measure in your SWOT Analysis:
- Unique Selling Proposition
- Online Presence
- Promotional Offers
- Target Audience
- Quality of Image
- Marketing Reach
- Strategic Alliances
- Extras – Shipping / Free Quotes
- Performance / Quality
- Lead Capture
- Customer Service
“I’m not sure it means what you think it means” – The Princess Bride
How to Research Your Competition
Not sure who your competition may be? Below are some tips for defining your competition:
- Research online
- Utilize professional resources
- Look on social media
- Ask your customers
- Attend a conference
- Check in with suppliers
- Conduct a survey
Sizing up the competition is an important step in developing a marketing strategy. You need to be able to answer, Why choose you? What makes you different, a better value or a better choice? If you can’t clearly answer this, how can you expect others to? Take the time to do the research and fully understand your competitors. If you want to beat them, or at least score some points against them, you need to know who they are.