Study points of contact.
Evaluate how your top competitors engage customers. Several things to consider include, but are not limited to, media and advertising, in-store, cause association, e-commerce, loyalty programs, online efforts, etc. This will give you greater insight into areas that your business can improve upon. While it is unlikely that you can “heavy up” on all of their efforts, pick one or two areas that complement your strengths and compete on those factors.
Identify a best in class competitor.
While you will likely have more than one competitor, you may find it helpful to identify one competitor that, in your eyes, is truly first-rate. They may set the standard in terms of their portfolio, business results, commitment to innovation, strong awareness, customer support, etc.
Identify your competitive “role model” and track their progress (and missteps) in market. This will help you focus your competitive monitoring with surgical precision, which is more likely to drive actionable results for your business.
Define indicated actions.
When you are monitoring competitors, it is equally as important to outline key takeaways. For example, “What have we learned from their market efforts?” Mainly, has your competitive research met the main challenge (e.g., as described in tip #2)? If your answer is yes, what action will you take based on this new information? If you don’t have indicated actions, then all of the competitive analyses in the world are futile.
Shore up competitive blind spots.
As your business grows, competitors will take notice. At this point, you will need to think like your competitors. This includes making your market position unassailable and shoring up blind spots (i.e., areas of weakness that you can’t readily see). Blind spots are “blind” because they are often areas you overlook, or tactics you would not consider. However, just because you wouldn’t dare do it … doesn’t mean your competitors share the same sentiment.
For example, since inception, YFS Magazine has experienced impressive YoY growth. To that end, we learned this lesson quickly when Entrepreneur magazine purchased the misspelling of our former domain name in 2013 (in all likelihood to benefit from our growth and improve upon their website traffic).
While this is no longer a competitive issue (given our pre-planned and finalized domain migration to yfsmagazine.com in which we own the misspelled domains as well) it is a simple lesson learned for your business: look for blind spots early to prevent competitive attempts to capitalize on your growth.
Meet your best competition.
Often, after all is said and done, you will come to realize that your greatest competition is “you”. Comparing yourself with others can distract you from your business goals. Instead, once you’ve identified key competitive insights, stay focused on sharing what makes you special with the world.
Focus on making the best possible version of your business and tap into your internal vision. Every single day you’ll learn to block out the internal voice that says you “can’t” and listen intently to the silent whispers of, “I can.”
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