Let's be honest. As much as you might want to believe that your product is unique. It isn't. Your product is still AWESOME. You just need to be sure that your potential customers know that. To do that, you need to know what is out there and how you compare.
The Competitive Analysis
The activity of scoping out your competition is called a competitive analysis. Sound like you need and MBA to do it, right? You don't. All you need to do is observe and quantify your observations.
Why do it?
- Gives you the information you need to plan for the realities of your business environment.
- You will understand your business capabilities and vulnerabilities better.
How do you do it?
- Decide who you should research for your analysis. It might seem obvious to you. Clearly you need to look at the biggest players in your space. Sometimes, you get your greatest insights from looking at smaller players. Make sure you are looking at a nice variety of companies.
- Assess what sources of information you have available to you. There is quite a bit of information on the internet but consider first-hand sources and look at your personal network and see who might have knowledge of the workings of the company
- There are six areas of business activity to that need to be assessed. Gather as much information on each of these areas before you begin any analysis or make any conclusions
- Marketplace strategy
Determine where they want to do business
List all the products they offer their attributes, features and availability
What level of service do they offer?
What is the company's image/reputation
Who are their customers? How do they attract and keep them?
Where and who sells their product?
How are they priced?
- Activity/Value Chain
How do they get their product to market?
Where do they manufacture?
How do they deliver?
How do they sell?
- Alliances and Networks
What type of support do their alliances and network offer them?
What kind of non-native expertise do those relationships afford them
What do they assume to be true about themselves, the world, their buyers?
What do they believe is possible or impossible?
- Assets and capabilities
What can they do?
What can they leverage to move forward and compete strongly?
- Organizational Infrastructure and Culture
How are they organized?
Who are the key players?
What are their values?
How do their values impact the organization?
- Marketplace strategy
- Once you have collected as much information as you can, it's time to start making some conclusions. Review all the data and think about the picture it paints of your competitive space. More importantly, use this information to decide how you will operate in this space.