Evaluate Your Competition

pencilsYou are ready to launch your business in a growing  niche market. Out of the blue a friend sends you a link to a similar new product or service.  After your initial shock, head over and evaluate the competition. Move into discovery mode and look under the hood of the competitor’s engine.  That knowledge may add a creative spark to your thinking.  Or it may serve to confirm that you’re bringing an authentic solution for a customer want or need at precisely the right time.

Take a short drive  and see what makes them tick.  Scope out their website and metatags.  Appraise how they tell their story. Are they solving the pain point in a novel way?  If you compete in a new market segment with low barriers to entry, understand the incremental features and benefits promised.  How does that compare to the “must have” features you learned in your customer discovery?  Tap into their social networks and get a feel for their buzz.

Note exactly how they do it.  Identify precisely how their product is offered in terms of pricing, features and customer service. This is a granular inspection of each element on their website, and related blog posts. Make a list of the good the bad and the ugly.  Understanding their “go to market” approach helps codify your thinking.

Order a product and act like a customer. Order a sample of the product and digest the customer process from beginning to end. Customer delight is mostly in the details.   How will your product or service deliver the WOW experience?  Call up and ask additional questions about the product you just received.

Sharpen your focus and move forward.  It is healthy to do a competitive analysis.  It is insane to obsess over what already exists. Spending tons of time studying a competitor can be a buzz kill.  Worse, you end up second guessing your marketing plan.  Take your new found learning back to your product launch with a healthy degree of skepticism.  Focus on what matters to YOUR customers, and add elements or tweaks if it improves the customer experience.

Building brand awareness is key to driving customers to your new product. Carefully crafted  marketing will create early brand evangelists.   Move forward with authority and launch your brand!


One Reply to “Evaluate Your Competition”

  1. Very well put; I particularly like how you emphasize checking out the competition but not letting the competition become your entire focus. A friend told me a good story this week — he worked at a company with a strong competitor; the startup team had an eye on the competitor and a healthy interest (even a bit edgy about them) in what they were doing. Over time, the competitor fell behind and the friend’s company hired lots of new staff because of their success. While they were ahead, the new staff never acquired a sense of competition or were given a reality check about other players from the leadership. In the end, the competitor came back around with a new strategy, blindsiding my friend’s company. Moral to the story is — keep an eye on them, don’t obsess, but don’t forget or underestimate.

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