If your competitor suddenly places an advertisement in an industry publication that neither of you are currently selling to, it's an indication that they're trying to reach a new market segment. It's also important to notice the design and tone of your competitor's advertisements.
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What kind of image do they convey? How does your own image compare? Are their advertisements in color while your own are black-and-white? Even if they're not, a clever advertising campaign can communicate that your competitor is an innovative, fresh company. Sales Brochures Sales brochures provide a wealth of product information. You can learn how your competitor is positioning their product and company and what features and benefits they're using to sell their product.
Try to obtain all new sales brochures and literature your competitor publishes. Significant changes in the content will indicate that new strategies are being employed. Newspaper and Magazine Articles Articles in newspapers and magazines are a source of information you can use to get an idea of what your competitor is planning for the future, how their organization is run, and what new product information or innovations they have.
Journalists may also uncover and reveal unflattering information about your competitor that may prove valuable to you. Be on the lookout for product reviews in magazines; they will reveal a competing product's strengths and weaknesses. Visit a college or public library. The reference librarian will show you how to find pertinent articles online much more quickly and easily than you'll find them by browsing.
Reference Books and Databases The publications listed in this section are available at most public and college libraries that have business resources. Ask a librarian to help you find them, as many are likely to be online and not listed in the library catalog.
State agency publications such as industry directories, and statistics on local industry employment, production, and equipment capabilities. Data can be selected alphabetically, geographically, by line of business, and officers and directors. Ward's Business Directory of U.
Private and Public Companies annual , provides profiles of over , companies small and mid-size companies as well as large corporations, most privately held across the U. Profiles include assets, gross earnings, revenues, and other pertinent information. Online versions of these products not only make their pertinent statistics easy to find. They often permit you to download data so you can combine it with other data to produce your own statistics.
Annual Reports If your competitor is a publicly-held company, many of its reports to the U. Annual reports provide financial information, including sales volume, revenue increases, and their total market share. Annual reports from privately-held corporations are sometimes available through friends, relatives, and business acquaintances who own stock in a competitor's company. Your Sales Force Your sales staff probably has more access to competitive information than anyone else in your organization.
Customers often show salespeople sales literature, contracts, price quotes, and other information from competitors. Part of a salesperson's job is to get customers to discuss problems they have with a competitor's product. Customers will also reveal your competition's product benefits, strengths, and customer service programs. Instruct your sales force to ask for copies of any competitive literature if and when that's possible.
Your entire sales staff should keep a record of all competitive information they discover — even if it's just a rumor or gossip. Devote a regular portion of each sales meeting to a discussion of the competition. Other Employees Your employees working in other areas of the company also become exposed to competitive information. They interact with others in their industry area and often learn what your rival is doing or hear gossip and rumors. Make sure your entire staff knows they should share any information concerning the competition immediately.
Former employees of a competitor can provide you with insight on: your competitor's new products, marketing strategies, how-to improve productivity and employ other resources more effectively, and what your competitor's general working environment is like. Trade Associations Most professional trade associations compile and publish industry statistics and report on industry news and leaders through trade association magazines and newsletters. Most trade associations also sponsor trade shows and other professional meetings.
This is an opportunity to see first-hand what your competition is producing. It also provides the opportunity to discover new players who may soon become your competition. Direct Observation If you own a flower shop, you should visit all of the flower shops in your geographic region. Act as a prospective customer; ask questions. You can learn about their selection and service and compare it to your own. Do not use an alias or disguise to gather intelligence from competitors. It may seem like a trivial deception, but it is dishonest, and could come back to haunt you.
Call an number and pretend to be a customer with questions and problems. If you sell products through a catalog, you not only want to be on your competition's mailing list; you should order a product from them to determine how long it takes to arrive, the method of shipment, and how it was packaged. Buy your competitor's products. Products can be evaluated and reverse engineered to provide meaningful information about your competitor's capabilities and weaknesses, technological innovations, manufacturing costs and methods.
Your Competitors You probably see the owner of a rival organization at trade shows, association meetings, and perhaps even socially. You can garner a great deal of information through a simple, friendly conversation. People like to talk about themselves and share their success stories and concerns with business associates. Assign someone to check the competitions' Web sites regularly for pertinent changes and news.
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And take a good look at your own: Do you say anything there that you'd just as soon not have your competitors see? Analyze Competitive Information Once you've gathered all of the competitive data you have been able to locate, it's analysis time. You should analyze to determine product information, market share, marketing strategies, and to identify your competition's strengths and weaknesses. Product Evaluation You should know from your sales staff and customer feedback what product features and benefits are most important to your customers and potential customers.
A product's or service's competitive position is largely determined by how well it is differentiated from its competition and by its price. Make a list of product features and benefits in order of importance, and prepare a table to show whether or not each of your competitors fulfill them. For example, Medium-sized companies that purchase copier machines may look for the following product benefits and features when making buying decisions: Competing Company: A B C D Features: 1.
Auto paper feed 2. Auto enlarge or reduce 3.
Collates 4. Staples 5. Warranty Benefits: 1.
Easy to operate 2. Saves money 3. Good print quality 4. Dependable 5. Features are fairly straightforward, either a product has a feature or it doesn't. Benefits, on the other hand, are not as simple and should only be recorded based on customer feedback. For example, company B may claim in their company literature that their copier is fast, but a user may feel otherwise. Or, company B may indeed have a copier that by industry standards is fast, but you may have a copier that's even faster. Now, evaluate your competition's product or service.
How does your product compare to your closest competitor's product? What features and benefits are unique to your product?
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To theirs? Secondary research consists of press releases, analyst reports, trade journals, regulatory filings, transcripts of speeches, and other published sources of information. Once you shift. This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue? Upload Sign In Join. Save For Later. Create a List.
Read on the Scribd mobile app Download the free Scribd mobile app to read anytime, anywhere. All rights reserved. And there we go. This can also work by searching company names, as competitors will often bid on each. Throw in a few things the keyword list you created in the previous section will be useful here to see what comes up. Why do we do this as well look at normal Google results?
Meanwhile, chucking money into ads can be a quick way to get noticed. Make sure you do the searches multiple times to see as many ads as possible. Tools like BuzzSumo , that allow you to analyze content, can be a good way to find competitors too. For example, searching relevant business and industry terms will give you the most shared content on those topics.
From there you can sift through the articles and blog posts for mentions of companies other than yourself. Head to our content competitive analysis section later on to see how to use these tools to learn more about your competition. Simply asking them about competitors will furnish you with some names. Be sure to keep this up, as well. New companies will be proactive in approaching your clients, so they can often be the first warning of a new rival on the scene. You can do this as part of your sales process by asking about previous suppliers when getting customer info. We talk about anything and everything on the internet, especially now we have things like Twitter and Reddit.
We got into more detail on using this for a competitive analysis later , but it can be good for finding competitors initially. Use the search functions for various platforms and forums to dig up mentions or discussions on products and services. Our Twitter search guide will come in handy here. Not all of these steps will be useful or relevant to you, but each one should at least be explored.
Consider setting up multiple tables, one for your main direct competitors, one for your main indirect competitors, and then a list of any competitors you want to keep an eye on. The third spreadsheet will end up being quite extensive, but use it more as an index and data resource than something you check and update regularly. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we want to get a general overview of a competitor, including their size, reach, activities, and personnel.
How to Do an Effective Competitive Analysis
This will help you get a basic comparison going between you and your competitors. This one is mainly for competitors who are public and have to publish their financial reports. Obviously knowing the revenue and profits or lack thereof of your rivals is useful information, especially if you can see it broken down by products, services, or whatever else. You might still be able to find some of this information elsewhere.
Companies will often talk about their financial progress in blogs, press releases, interviews, talks, conferences, and other mediums. In other words, useful data might just pop up so you should always be on the lookout. Take it with a pinch of salt, though. A passing comment on a blog post might not tell the whole story, or even be accurate. Remember, their messaging will be spread across a range of mediums and channels such as:.
Their website and material copy will likely be more illuminating. Two companies offer this service: Starcrest Executive and SimpleShuttle. If we look at their websites, Starcrest Executive talks about luxury and comfort on their Mars trips, with the actual cost not mentioned except on a specific page. With SimpleShuttle, the costs are upfront, appear on multiple pages, and are presented as cheap, while the copy talks about value and efficiency. From that we can make an assumption that Starcrest Executive are targeting people with a higher income than SimpleShuttle, and that their selling points differ comfort vs cost.
On the surface this is pretty straight-forward. Simply do a bit of research and come up with a price list for your competitors you can compare to your own. In cases where you sell very similar products, this is easy, but in other cases it can be a bit harder. When products or services differ, for example on features of a piece of software, price comparisons get a bit harder. The best bet is to find as much common ground as possible and compare appropriately.
You can never know for sure what a competitor is planning on doing, but you can make educated guesses. Careers and recruitment pages can be really helpful here. Job postings can give us an insight into the inner works of a company. These pages could also give clues or signs of turmoil or trouble. A big increase in job openings across the board could suggest a lot of people leaving.
Sites like Glassdoor, which let ex and current employees leave reviews on their employees, are worth a look too. Some of these reviews can be very candid and will give you a better understanding of what makes your competitors tick. Keeping up to date with technology and the latest trends is important for website conversions.
Are they getting ahead or falling behind? What are they attempting but doing badly? For a start, look at the type of content they produce. Most will have blogs so see what topics they cover, how often they post, and how well they perform. Do they do any long-form content, such as guides or reports? Have a good root around their entire site and see what you can dig up. Of course, an important part of this is seeing what actually works. Tools like BuzzSumo will help you start with this. Chuck in a domain URL and it will tell you what kind of content gets the most shares.
You also get to see what types of content work too. One of the first things to do is to get an understanding of what your competitors are up to. What platforms do they use?