Know thine enemy – or in this case – thine competitor

When it’s you vs. them, it’s crucial to know who “they” are.

The business world is competitive by nature. In this economy, it’s positively cutthroat – in a professional, may-the-best-man-or-woman-win kind of way. Getting ahead of your competitors doesn’t require you to carry a dagger under you cloak, but it does mean you have to keep a shrewd eye on your rival’s every move – and adjust your marketing plan to compensate when necessary.

The best way to do that is to periodically conduct a competitive analysis.

There is no one “right way” to do a competitive analysis. One method involves identifying success factors in your industry and ranking your competitors’ abilities to meet those factors in a two-dimensional matrix. This presents you with a weighted, numerical score of the threat each competitor represents.

Another method is to write profiles of each company, explaining strengths and weaknesses in the areas of background, financials, products, marketing, facilities, personnel and corporate strategies.

Either way, the competitive analysis should answer the following questions:

• What products or services do they offer?
• What do those products or services cost and how are they priced?
• How many customers do they have?
• What are their competitive advantages and disadvantages?
• How do they/will they react to your market penetration?

The competitive analysis is an excellent tool when it comes to the company’s marketing strategy. If your competitor offers home care but does not utilize care management then this is a great selling point to emphasize in your marketing material. If you do not offer as wide a range of services as the competitors, then specialization can be stressed so you are emphasizing quality over quantity. It’s all about zeroing in on your strengths and their weaknesses – and marketing them.

It’s painless. It’s efficient. It’s non-violent. But it’s sure to help your company get its foot on the next rung of the ladder of success.