Competitive Analysis (2)
Following on from my initial coverage on conducting competitive analysis, let’s now concentrate on how to use the intelligence you have gathered.
Hit The Ground Running
Analysing how your rivals have “set out their stall” not only enables you to assess how high the risk of entry is for you, but also how best to respond. Many suppliers are currently chasing the same sweet spot, whether in respect to products or geography. Your entry needs to pack a punch. It’s all about tactics.
Most Market Landscapes Are Changing
Competitors’ share rankings will confirm how concentrated or fragmented the market is, thereby identifying the challenges you face in terms of branding and positioning. If very concentrated, have barriers to entry been created? If very fragmented, is the market price driven? This specific scenario is not necessarily bleak: The top two players may be there purely because they were first to market, and their share could be softening. The raft of “others” beneath them may reflect the market’s evolution, therefore an opportunity for you to seize. However, you need to be clear on your timeline to break even and start generating profit, as this shift will not occur overnight.
Standing out from the crowd
If you are an SME, do not be overwhelmed. This can be a key strength in relation to QoS. Larger operations often mean hierarchies, which can translate into apathy, arrogance, or delay. You will have to work harder, but can build up credentials via lead times, willingness to listen, and response to customer feedback. Your channel partners are crucial here: there is no substitute for “feet on the ground”.
In terms of portfolio, if you are a relatively new player even in your domestic sector, this can be an advantage. Your offering could enable customers to leap-frog legacy technology and/or vendor lock-in, and in turn help them gain competitively. In emerging regions this is a highly prized asset. Consider some of the current industry’s major themes (e.g. SaaS, Cloud Computing, Open Source software, Security) and highlight any correlations with your portfolio, including design. Could your profile be further raised via a collaborative venture? Can you sign up VARs to with such experience?
Spread The Word
Your intelligence can help you to align your core strengths to local market opportunity (SWOT analysis). Consider all of your operations, including customer services and channel partners, as a natural extension of the branded qualities you are pushing. Your marketing effort should consolidate this position.
The Internet should become your new best friend, especially in terms of lead generation. Get help in designing interactive content, most simply white papers and brochures, which can be distributed on by your prospects. View viral marketing as a largely positive force, but remember, authenticity is key. Consider Twitter as a way to engage in thought forums with like-minded peers.
Finally, competitive analysis must remain an ongoing process. Technology attracts new entrants regularly, and customers’ needs will change. Your ability to respond to this matters.