How well do you know your competition?
My guess is you are feeling pretty good that you do. But your goal should be to know the competitor better than they know themselves.
Every day your competitors are thinking about the moves that will make them a huge threat to your business.
Would it be easy for them to grab a huge share of your business just by giving your key retailers an alternative that they can use to leverage you for pricing and other things? All they have to do is be “Good Enough.”
They don’t have to do better.
Political advertising as a model? You bet.
In political campaigns today, each candidate for a major office has a team of quick response people. If a competitor attacks them – or they see an opportunity – they can write, shoot and edit a TV commercial and have it on the air in 8 hours.
Is it even scarier because you don’t know how to deal with real competition? You should have a team of talented people working together on this threat in real-time. You can’t afford to wait and see and then try to react. It will be too late.
The risk for you is that your battle will be won or lost in the first few weeks. You have to keep them from succeeding. At least you have to do everything you can to hold them off and delay their progress.
Three simple strategies for knowing your competition better than they know themselves
In the end there’s a good chance that you will take a major hit to your sales and market share if the competition stays interested in your market. You just don’t want to make it too easy.
If you make it hard enough, their management may decide it isn’t worth it.
That’s where these three guidelines can give you a competitive edge.
- Know your business, customers and consumers – be the undisputed expert in the category
- Know your competition – study them, obsess over them, worry about them every day
- Continuous Improvement – adding and refining your knowledge daily
It starts with knowing your business, customers and consumers
It all starts off by knowing more about your own industry, brand, product and channels. Competitive insights start with knowing yourself – warts and all – because your competition will minimize your strengths and exploit your weaknesses.
Here’s a list of areas you need to thoroughly dig into and understand:
- Overall market (brand and channel)
- Served market (brand and channel)
- Consumer segmentation (channel)
- Review all information related to your product portfolio (past and present)
- Read latest research studies (primary and secondary)
- Learn your consumer requirements by portfolio
- Learn customer requirements by portfolio
- Look at what’s being said online about you (in blogs, e-commerce sites, etc.)
If you think you know all of this information, ask yourself if your team or company knows this information equally.
Having it all in your head isn’t the answer. It needs to be documented, made widely available and be constantly reviewed, updated and validated for greatest impact.
Competitive analysis – Knowing your competition better than they know themselves
With a firm grasp of your own situation, you are ready to look closely at your competition.
Before you do anything, start a list on “who should be our competitor” and “who is our competitor.” This will force you to look more broadly and not focus on those few you bump heads with every day.
Here’s a general outline of the information you should have memory resident:
- Company Profile & Financials
- Financial strength, D&B/Hoovers reports
- Global footprint manufacturing locations, DC’s
- Annual reports, analyst presentations, other public reporting
- Key executives (LinkedIn profiles, corporate structure, alignment and reporting structure)
- Hiring for what positions (job descriptions and ads posted online)
- Corporate philosophy/Key initiatives
- Market analysis
- Recent news
- Market share/channel share
- Product portfolio assessment
- Market segment gap analysis
- Product analysis
- Innovation/product history
- Patent review
- Technical claims
- Product cost/price points
- Product warranties/guarantees
- Customer service (location, ways to contact, online support, etc.)
- Tear down analysis
- Markets and channels served
- Differentiation strategy
- Retail Audit/In store Presence
- Store walks – where located in store, number of skus, adjacencies
- Retailer POGs, assortment analysis, merchandising
- Product on shelf – innovations?
- Brand attributes, promise, positioning, tag lines, brand equity
- Trademark review
- Ads/media spend analysis
- Consumer target
- Visual brand strategy
- Reasons to believe
- Online presence
- Web strategy – organization, messaging, focus
- Social media sites – content, dates, followers
- E-commerce and online reviews, comments, ratings
- Promotional analysis
- Promotions – in-store, FSIs, NLP’s
- Pricing strategy (EDLP, high/low)
- SWOT – barriers to entry, strengths and weakness that can be leveraged
- Reps or direct
- Selling story against us
- Sales tools
- Business model
- Where are they going, where would they plan to go, how would they win
- Point of entry
- Good – better – best strategy
Put your knowledge to the test and build a competitive sales pitch
It’s not good enough to make this a part-time project for the summer intern.
You and your team need to live in the competition’s head. That way you’ll have a good idea about how they will try to sell against you, how you can find the chinks in your armor and how you will ultimately be more successful in the market place.
To see if you really understand your competition, try this: write a sales pitch to one of your customers as if you were them. Build a PowerPoint template and lay out the selling story.
Be aggressive and be the competition. It may surprise you. And it may scare you. But you’ll be better prepared for the future.
Perhaps this story sums it up the best
At an innovation session for Kellogg’s last year, one of the ideas thrown out was to move a product from the cracker aisle to the snack aisle. No way, they said. Frito Lay owns that aisle. They will do whatever it takes to kill us in the snack aisle. We don’t want to get on their radar screen.
Your competitors should have this same fear.
Photo credit: Succeed With Binary Options