Why everyone in your company needs to know about your competition.
Can everyone in your organization explain the general nature of competition in your industryhow customers seem to choose one provider over another? Do they know who competes with you for your customers' time and money? Can they differentiate themselves without criticizing the competition in front of the prospect? Strong, successful companies recognize that this is strategic behavior, and should be integral to the corporate culture.
Platitudes will get you nowhere.
"We're the best at what we do."
"We're the leading firm in the area."
"We provide best-in-class service."
Can you prove it? If you don't have the data to benchmark your firm against the field, how can you tell if you're the best at what you do? Today's buyers have heard these platitudes before. Don't lose the opportunity because you couldn't support your claim!
You Know Your Strengths. But Your Prospective Customer's Comparing You To Someone Else.
You can only stress your strengths in relation to the competition if you know what they are. Your prospective clients are becoming more sophisticated every day. They'll know. So when you've got a presentation, and you've done your homework, you can shift your focus away from a competitive problem area and toward an area where you do have the edge. Position yourself to win by knowing what your prospective client values, knowing what you're up against, and having your data-backed value statements ready.
Your Visibility Should Be At Least As Good As Theirs. Continuously.
You can differentiate your firm more effectively if you know what your competitors are doing with their
. Do they have a regular column in a regional magazine, or a monthly client newsletter, or free webinars, active internet partnering programs, or submissions in every relevant search engine and directory?
Use this information to counter these moves with your own to raise your visibility and make selling easier.
Your Competitive Analysis
A good competitive analysis begins by explaining the dynamics of competition in your business sector, and how customers seem to choose one provider over another. What drives customer decisions? Price or billing rates, reputation, or image and visibility? Are brand names important? What about word-of-mouthfor many service firms relationship is key simply because word-of-mouth determines how customers choose providers.
Positioning and Market Perception
If you don't position yourself, you will be positioned by the market, however you "end up." You should know how you are perceived in the market. Compare services, service quality, pricing, reputation, company management, financial position & capital resources, brand awareness, business development, technology, market segments, market share, apparent marketing mix... What seems to be their strategy? How much do they impact your business, and what threats and opportunities do they represent?
Finding Information on Competitors
You can find an amazing wealth of market data on the Internet. The hard part, of course, is sorting through it all, and knowing what's reliable, and then knowing what to focus on.
Your access to competitive information will vary. Publicly traded competitors may have a significant amount of information available, since it's required. But privately held competitors only have to let out what they choose. Some companies find it helpful to do this research by taking on the role of a potential customer to get information.
Industry associations, industry publications, media coverage, information from the financial community, and their own marketing materials and websites can also be good resources to identify and "rate" the performance and position of each competitor.
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