What Basic Questions Should Competitive Analysis Answer?
Business without a competitive analysis is like a bicycle without tires. As a leader, knowing your strengths is where the rubber hits the road! Sales and Marketing will need a comparison to properly steer the understand of pricing, placement and promotion. Specifically, high performing sales people want to know the industry, the competitors and even indirect alternatives. There are a lot of choices available to customers – how are you DIFFERENT?
Here are four basic questions that will provide structure to your research:
- Who are your competitors?
- What products and services do they offer?
- What are the features, advantages and benefits to their offering?
- How do we position our organization versus our competitors in our sales and marketing message?
Is Positioning a Noun or a Verb?
Oh – you noticed that the last question is not as basic as it appears! It is tempting to get into feature/function comparisons. However, organizations have different processes, patents and approaches that provide differentiation. Position can be a noun, but in competitive analysis is is a verb. You want to place your brand in the buyers brain in relation to their needs – not the competition. Who cares if you rank third in revenue if you solve the issues of the buyer?
S.W.O.T. Analysis Provides Useful Comparisons
One useful tool is a S.W.O.T. analysis. S.W.O.T. stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This acronym can also help you create a useful comparison tool for all of your competitors. Simply create a table and list S.W.O.T across the left and your competitors across the top.
Comparisons Provide Differences
Break out your competitive comparisons by listing your competition across the top and SWOT attributes on the left. Your research should uncover the strengths and opportunities that your competitors are highlighting. What markets are they targeting? What new products and services are they promoting? News Flash – your enemies will not tell you their weaknesses or what they perceive as a threat. You have to figure that out on your own!
Here is a good resource I found that includes an e-book and video for performing in depth SWOT reports: