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Do you know as much about your competitors as you do about your own organization? Whether you are a hard-driving business or a non-profit striving to do good, you need to know about your competition.

By competition, I mean where else your ideal customers, investors, or donors could commit their cash. In an ideal world, you’d have no competition. That is, you will have so focused your distinctive value that anyone who wants what you offer would consider you to be the best, if not the only, place to go. Thus, before you examine the competition, be clear about your distinctive value.

With your distinctive value in mind, identify the other organizations that customers, investors, donors, etc. might consider when thinking about your offer.

Here’s what you can do to understand your position, differentiate yourself, and succeed.

  • Mystery shop your competitors and your own business.

There’s no quicker way to find out what’s happening than to gather information as a customer or prospective customer and find out how what you offer stacks up with what your competitors provide. Compare the presentations, support materials, and value propositions from each. Act like a hard-nosed customer and see how your firm does.

  • Mine trade shows and conferences.

You can listen in on sales pitches, check marketing approaches, and glean key insights by walking the aisles at trade shows, conferences, or presentations. Participants will answer questions and provide information at these events that you’d never get if you called them.

  • Survey your competitors.

That’s right. Just call up and ask your questions. Many customer service or marketing personnel will provide substantial information. You can simply say that you are conducting a survey on your topic and wanted to get information from leading businesses in the field.

When I do a competitive analysis or advise my clients about doing it, I always encourage them to maintain the highest ethics. We never misrepresent ourselves. There’s no need to be disingenuous. You can get the information you need straightforwardly.

Remember that what you are trying to do with the competitive analysis is to sharpen your business’ distinctive value and find the ideal customers for it. If you’re doing your work effectively, you will have no competition. You will be providing something of distinctive value in content or delivery where your targeted customers perceive that there really isn’t another choice to fully satisfy their needs.

Photo Credit: Copyright: pixelrobot / 123RF Stock Photo

About Don Maruska

As a founder and CEO of three Silicon Valley companies, venture investor, and recipient of the National Innovators Award, Don writes, speaks, and coaches from a broad base of experience » Learn More

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