When you begin to think about competitive analysis, ask yourself this: What do my customers actually see when they compare my business to my competitors’? After all, your customers’ perspective is the only one that counts.
Therefore knowing and understanding what your customer sees is the most important competitive analysis you can do.
Ready to beat your competitors like a drum? Start thinking like a prospective customer. Your customers and prospects don’t live in a vacuum. They are sophisticated shoppers. Their perceptions of price, value, quality and service are actually very high. What happens whey they compare you to the “other guy?”
Sometimes you can focus too much on what is special or unique about your own business that you forget about your competition. And yet, your customers and prospects will see and read your competitors’ marketing materials along with yours. They will talk to them on the phone. They will price products, review guarantees, meet with sales staff. You see, your customers are constantly conducting their own competitive analysis.
You need to be doing the same thing so that you can better understand what the customer sees. You need to know where you stand in comparison to your competitors from the customer’s perspective. Start conducting your competitive analysis the way your customer would.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
1. How do my ads and promotions compare to my competition?
2. How do my other marketing materials compare?
3. How are my competitors reaching my prospects? Direct mail? Incentives? Specials? Coupons? Give-aways? Call and ask!
4. How good are my phone operators compared to my competitors’? How often do prospects wait on hold, or have to leave a message, or have to go through layers of automated messages? How soon does my staff return a call? And check how this compares to the “other guys” out there.
5. How good are my competitors’ sales staff? What are their presentations like?
6. What time, volume or seasonal incentives does your competition hand out?
7. What’s the follow up like with my competitors?
8. How good is their offer? How do they build value right into their offer? What are their guarantees and return policies? How good is their customer service?
9. What are they doing to stay in contact with customers?
10. And finally, what do they do poorly? Why do customers leave them and come to me or go somewhere else?