As a new year approaches, it’s a good time to look at the different aspects of your business and decide what you want to change or develop over the next twelve months. Today we’re taking a look at your relationship with your competitors, to help you find the space you need to shine in the new year.
Can There Only Be One?
It’s a bit of a fallacy to assume that all businesses operating in the same sector must be bitterly at war to the death. In many cases, a crowded market is a healthy sign: it means lots of demand! The most important thing to do is find a way to coexist alongside your competitors, not to crush them.
When times get tough – and we are now entering a recession, coupled with soaring prices for basic goods and utilities, with many market segments experiencing a significant squeeze on their finances – this can sharpen up, but the best way through is still to approach the issue from a positive perspective rather than a negative one. “How can you stand out to your customers?” rather than “How can you beat the opposition?”
Finding the White Space
The most important thing you can do is find space. Conceptual space, so customers have an idea of where you’re distinct from the others brands in your niche, and calendar space, so your announcements, your new products, your sales aren’t fighting for mindshare with your competitors.
It can be tricky to achieve. After all, you’re in the same industry, affected by the same seasonal patterns. If you’re selling shorts and t-shirts, summer arrives at the same time for you as it does for all your competitors. If you’re in the hospitality industry, Christmas is on the 25th of December for every pub, bar, hotel and restaurant.
This is where competitive intelligence consultants can help. From identifying and ranking your most significant competitors – a process that’s known as competitor benchmarking – taking educated guesses at their plans for the year ahead and even running war game scenario planning to help you understand how they might react in different situations so you can plan around them, this can infuse your plans with an awareness of the market around you in a way that creates a firmer foundation for your own success.
Going to Your Customers
The other half of this equation is your customers. You need to know what they think – of you, your competitors and the whole market – in order to hone your marketing and show them what you do that makes you unique and attractive to spend money on, over and above the other brands in your space.
This requires a wide reach and hard data, so you may find yourself going to consultants again. There’s a lot of value to be derived from market research insights, so this will likely be a good decision for you!