Recognizing and Understanding your Competition
In a marketing or sales environment, one of the most important things to keep track of is your competition. There are several things to consider when sizing up the competition and determining your current offering in the marketplace:
This tends to be the number one objection for sales reps, and tends to be the most difficult one for marketing professionals to get right. If you are priced well above your competitors, your product/service offering should well outweigh that of your competition. Once a quarter, the marketing team should conduct competitive analysis to see where the top 5 competitors are in pricing their products, and determine how to effectively price your product to ensure it moves.
A greeting card is a greeting card is a greeting card, right? Maybe not. Hallmark, American Greetings, and Marcel Shurman each own a piece of the Greeting Card Industry pie, and all of their products are very different. From look and feel to card-stock weight to versing to target market-each company positions their products a little differently. When reviewing the competitive products, don’t wait until the annual trade show. Buy your competition’s products. Study them. Understand their key benefits and key downfalls. Evaluate the good, bad, and indifferent, and develop competitive product strategies accordingly.
Where is your product going? What does your target market look like, and is it the same or different from your perceived competitors? Reviewing your target market alongside that of your competitors will enable you to truly focus on the top 3 to 5 competitors who own a piece of the same marketplace you are in, and will help you position for better placement, better service, or better marketing strategies to get your name out there more aggressively.
What share of the market do you own? What share is owned by your true competitors? Figure out who owns what currently, and then sit down and figure out what your marketing strategy needs to be to increase your market presence. This is especially important if you are not the dominant market player. You will need to really focus your energies on those hits that will generate quick returns on your investment.
Who are their customers? Why? Why did their customers choose them? Why do customers walk away from them? How many of their customers are also your customers? Understanding who your competition’s customers are will enable you to create an effective marketing strategy targeting that customer base. This should be a relatively easy campaign for your sales team to execute, as the customers using your competition are already using an industry product or service. The difference will come when you provide evidence that your product or service is better, stronger, faster, more capable, etc of helping the customer to improve their bottom line.
Studying your competition is healthy. Knowing where you stand vs. them in the marketplace gives you an advantage in both marketing and sales efforts. However, it is important to remember that too much study and not enough action can result in lost marketing and sales efforts. Keep your eye on the competition, but don’t look too close, or you will be left holding the bag. Keep your eyes focused in creating the best, most efficient, most effective service or product provider you can be to your customers and to new customers, and you will win customers for life.