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An important part of understanding your market is to be aware of your company's competitors. Whether or not you feel you're competing, or even if you dislike the concept of competition, it is a reality. Competition exists because your customers have many options and limited time, money, and attention. It's important to know your competitors so that when you're asked, what makes your company different, you can speak about it with authority. Also, this knowledge increases your market savvy in general.
We have provided a worksheet that you can use to quickly and easily gain an understanding of these basic differences between you and your competition. The worksheet is meant for one competitor at a time. You'll see a list of areas of competition where you may be stronger or weaker than the other business. You don't need to complete every option available if you're unsure. I'll run through each of these options for you. Size refers to which company is bigger, either in terms of sales or employees.
Speed means how quickly you deliver products and services to your customers. Innovation refers to your ability to create new product ideas and new ways of delivering your products and services. Quality is the comparison of the company's products and services in relation to each other. Suppliers provide the material that you use and can influence the quality of your product. Distribution refers to your company's ability to get your product into the hands of your customers.
Customer service reflects how responsive and helpful you are to your customers. Reputation refers to media attention and general discussion about your company. Is your reputation more positive than your competitors? Market awareness is similar to reputation but refers to how well known your company is in the market, compared to your competitor. Customer loyalty means how long customers stay with you and Patents/legal refers to legal advantages that you may have over your competition by virtue of the patents or trademark that you've filed.
There are plenty of additional spaces on the worksheet to add any areas you'd like to compare. You'll notice there are columns for Competitor, Tie, and Us. For each of the areas, mark who is winning the head-to-head comparison. Is it your competitor, is it you, or is it a tie? There is also a Notes column where you can jot down anything you want to remember later. As you complete this worksheet, you'll very quickly get an idea of the areas where you're strong and where your competitors are strong.
There is no business that beats their competitor in every single area. It's not practical to try to achieve. What matters more is that a company emphasizes its strengths in comparison to the competition. At the bottom of the worksheet, there is a space for One action. Think about an action you can take as a result of the knowledge you've gained. Knowing what you know now about your competitor, what's one thing you will do or say differently? Right down the first action that comes to mind and then do it.
This process can take some time to complete but it's time well spent. Not only will you be better prepared to talk about your competition, but you'll understand your company even more.
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