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Exactly Who is Your Competition? Key to standing out in a crowded market…

As part of a brand or marketing analysis, it is very important to determine:

  • what your competitors are communicating online and offline
  • what their customers are saying about them
  • and most importantly, what competitors aren’t saying that your business does well

The Real Competition – A traditional competitive analysis, detailed above, is the baseline. It is good to keep an eye on similar products/brands. However, the building blocks to ongoing marketing and product/service improvements should not be based on what competing brands are doing. Instead, day in and day out, concentrate on your real competition: every “obstacle your customer encounters along their journey to solve the human, high-level problem your company exists to solve.” (Harvard Business Review, Competition, Obsess Over Your Customers, Not Your Rivals by Tara-Nicholle Nelson).

As mentioned in the Harvard article, focusing on competitive products/services often leads to “me-too” products which puts you into a pricing war (i.e., commodity) or could potentially be pointing you down a path of creating and pushing an offering that customers might not have liked that much in the first place!

You and your team’s efforts should be spent truly understanding who your most profitable target audience is, their needs and desires, and the obstacles your company solves for them. That audience may or may not be the majority of your current customer base. Maybe there is a problem that exists that your product or service solves, that is not being communicated?

Research is key, and it is at your fingertips.  For example:

  • IT Consulting Company? Start a LinkedIn group, asking CIOs and CTOs to join the conversation around the topic of hurdles to overcome to maximize ROI in technology and services.
  • Medical practice? Read the Yelp and Google reviews for your practice and similar practices, take notice of trends the reviews might highlight, i.e., we love going to Dr. Smith, she accommodates our schedule with weekend and early morning appointments.
  • Retail? Talk to your customers… Give them products they don’t normally buy to try in return for a 10 minute conversation with them after they use the product. What did they love, what didn’t they like and most importantly, what problem did it solve?

Don’t go with the status quo. Allow time to take a step back, analyze the real needs of your audience as compared to your passion. Why did you start your organization ? Are you being true to your “why”? It is often the intersection of the business owner’s why and the real needs of your audience (problems solved) that bring profitability and most importantly, joy in what you do. It matters.

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