5 Things You Better Know About Your Competitors
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself you will succumb in every battle.” ~Sun Tzu on the Art of War
It is not enough to only know and understand your own business, you must know and understand your competitors as well. In order to achieve long-term success, you must have a grasp on both, and constantly be evaluating yourself and your “enemies.” Here are a few places to start when it comes to understanding those closest to you in the market.
COMPANY SIZE AND DETAILS
How big are they? Are they a public company or private? How much do they do in volume? All of these are important so that you can try and predict what they will do as the market changes. Can they last through a price war? Do they tend to acquire their competitors? This is extremely valuable information in building and working through your own company’s business plan.
COMPETITOR PRICING STRATEGY
What is their pricing strategy? Most expensive or most affordable? High service and/or quality or fast and cheap? Knowing what their plan is will help you decide where you fit into the market. Can you take them on head to head? Or do you look for a niche where you can be the big player and let them have their own area. Do they have a lot of margin where they could drop prices quickly or are they running on a thin margin with little room? All of this should factor into the direction and plans for your operation.
What is their sales process? If your competitor is an aggressive sales group, you will need to be prepared to match them. If they are weak, you may be able to take advantage of their lethargic approach and attack their weak points. In addition, knowing what they say are their “benefits” is an easy way to write your own sales scripts. By addressing everything they will say in their presentation to your prospective client, you “steal their thunder” and give yourself an advantage.
YOUR COMPETITOR’S KEY PLAYERS
Who are their key players? Having an idea of who the decision makers are, the key managers, and even their key salespeople allows you to not only have a window into the decision process, but also a connection in case you need to discuss the market or other information as it comes up. In addition, it provides you with a pipeline for future team members or mergers, or at the very least a way to check out some references of potential team members.
WHAT IS THEIR CURRENT STANDING IN THE MARKET?
Are they growing, maintaining or shrinking? Finally, and most important, what is their current mode they are in? If they are aggressively trying to gain market share, you better have your defenses up and ready. If they are winding down as some companies do due to lack of interest, poor succession planning, or exiting a market, be ready to scoop up the business they are leaving behind. Either way, knowing what your competitors are trying to do is a key piece to building your plan for the future.
So, as they say, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Do everything you can to know your competition almost better than they know themselves. Predict what moves they will make and counter them before they even make a move. How much power will you have? How much easier will it be to make things happen? Being proactive is the order of the day. Take the time, study your competitors, incorporate what you believe their plan is into yours, and maximize your success.