“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear result of a hundred battles.” – Sun Tzu
One of the hardest things to do is to perform a strictly honest competitive analysis. This kind of analysis inventories the strengths and weaknesses that you have, and how they stack up against the strength and weaknesses of your competitors. Honestly, a lot of business owners do not like this part of creating a business plan, but it is indispensable in the crowded field of online marketing and digital media. You are competing for customers, not just clicks, and need to establish a knowledge base so that you can proceed and succeed at marketing your business.
Ask the Hard Questions
Your local marketing professional can help you to formulate the questions that will give you a clearer picture of conditions and competition in your local market place, but the general questions should be:
- Who do you see as your main competition?
- What are their main products and services?
- What market share do they hold?
- What are their current marketing strategies?
- What traditional media are their using to market themselves?
- What are their digital marketing strategies?
- What threats do they pose to your business?
- What opportunities do you feel that they’ve overlooked?
Next, you might want to make a competitive analysis grid, so you can have a visual take on how you and your competition stack up – this is a good example and explanation from University of Iowa. The SBA has some good tips on how to objectively analyze the market for your business, and give yourself a realistic snapshot of what you’re up against. However, if you feel you need someone with more experience in analyzing competition and with business planning, you should ask for help in executing these important parts of your business plan.
It’s very tempting to think that you can start your business and conquer your market, but the truth is that there are probably a lot of people out there who have the same idea. You are going to be up against the ones who started first, have a customer base, and a market share. You have to establish yourself, yes, but you still need to plan and strategize on how a newcomer can gain a customer base and market share against the established companies. You can certainly count on them analyzing you in just the same way.
Working with a marketing professional can also give you access to more data and more know-how when it comes to formulating a competitive analysis that’s going to be honest and insightful. You grow and nurture a business, and it can be hard to see the weaknesses, and you can even miss some game-changing strengths that you need to develop. You need some outside eyes that can help you see the big picture, not just the part that you’ve been focusing on.