Judo is based on the idea that resisting a more powerful opponent will result in defeat. If you adjust and evade the opponent’s attacks instead of that, they will lose balance, reduce their power, and it’ll be easier to defeat them.
Like in Judo, you have to be smart about your competitors. Worrying about their every movement without analyzing how you can benefit from them is of no use.
Instead, you can focus on finding and leveraging their weaknesses.
You need to understand and know what the weaknesses of your competitors are. It can help you add value to your proposition. With this information, you’ll understand what’s your place in your Competitive Landscape.
Here’s how to do it.
Understand Your Competitive Landscape
By making a Competitive Landscape Analysis, you can find out who your competitors are, identify their weaknesses, and then plan how you’re going to leverage them.
Although this sounds like a fancy concept, every company can benefit from it. Small startups can discover how they differentiate from big companies. Big corporations can have more aggressive strategies.
Understanding the Competitive Landscape makes the difference between success and failure to find the right strategy to launch a new product.
It might sound overwhelming at first, but you don’t need specialized tools or expensive services to make this kind of analysis.
Let’s start with the first step!
Find Out Who Your Competitors Are
The first step is to be sure about who your competitors are.
Maybe you already have a broad idea of who these companies are but remember, there may be other companies that you have no idea exist. You might also have indirect competitors, companies that are not selling the same product or service as you but solve the same problem.
The important thing is: you need to know who your competitors are.
These are some ways of finding them:
- Search engines. You can perform a simple search like “productivity software” and see what comes up. As you search more, you can get more specific like “productivity software for startups.” Remember, using the right keywords is critical to find good information.
- Social media. If it makes sense, you can search on social media. There are many forums on sites like Reddit or Quora where people ask about products and services. You might find the name of some competitors there.
- Competitive Intelligence tools. Using professional tools to find out who your competitors are will make a difference in the quality of information you get. There are many competitive intelligence tools available. KISSPlatform can help you uncover your competitors!
The following steps are about knowing deeply what your competitors are up to. It’s possible that after doing the previous searches, you find out way more competitors than you were expecting! You don’t need to analyze them all.
To start, you can choose the ones you think will be a more significant competitor. Just remember, things rapidly change, so you might want to be checking out the companies that you won’t include in your analysis.
Learn About Their Offerings
Once you know who your competitors are, you can focus on understanding what makes them unique by understanding:
- Who are their customers
- What’s their value proposition
- How long they’ve been in business
- What are their prices
- What’s the size of the company
You get the idea. You want to know everything about these companies.
A simple spreadsheet is enough to collect all the information!
Uncovering Your Competitors’ Weaknesses
Once you know the offerings, you can start focusing on their weaknesses.
Weaknesses are hard to find because we don’t talk about them. You’ll never find a company that says they’re bad at something. You’ll have to discover it.
There are many ways to find them, these are some ideas:
- Talk to customers. Your potential customers have probably already tried the offerings of your competitors. Ask them about something they wanted to get from it and couldn’t, ask them if this company could do better in some aspect.
- Read online reviews. There are tons and tons of review sites on the internet; some are very specialized, like G2, which has software reviews. Another idea is to make Twitter searches that mention your competitors. Think about the places you would complain at and look there!
- Check their personnel. When companies hire, they do it to fill a gap or to help them with a strategy. Sites like LinkedIn provide lists of the employees the companies have. By checking where they put more effort, you can discover specific trends. Let’s say you find out they’re hiring people for their sales department. At the same time, you see they only have two developers in-house. It might mean they’re putting more effort into selling and not in developing.
- Use different analysis frameworks. We’ve already talked about frameworks like the SWOT Analysis or Porter’s Five Forces Analysis. You can use these frameworks for your company but also your competitors.
Determine Strengths And Weaknesses
To determine this, you can keep using your spreadsheet to fill out the information about your competitors, or you can make a Competitive Matrix.
By visualizing how your offering compares to others, it’s easier to find the gaps you’re filling or the areas of opportunity you can explore.
It’s important to know that those gaps might not be a weakness of your competitors. Getting back to the productivity software for startups software example, none of your competitors may be doing it simply because there’s no market for a tool like that.
That’s why, before creating any solution, you have to validate your problem first.
Review Your Value Proposition
After you’ve analyzed your competitors and their offerings, it’s time to review what your value proposition is.
Remember the Judo analogy in the beginning?
The idea is to use the weaknesses and movements of your competitors to help you in your company.
You can use this information in three ways:
- To plan future development. Is there something none of your competitors doing and you could add as a future feature? You can design it!
- To adjust your messaging. Maybe you discover that your offer has a unique feature that you didn’t think was that important, but you find out what customers want. You can talk about it more in your messaging!
- To create a better sales plan. You can emphasize the weaknesses of your competitors while offering a solution with your product!
Analyzing doesn’t mean that you’re done. You have to repeat the process frequently.
As we said before, things can change rapidly. New companies may pop up, behaviors will change, markets might open. And you need to be ready for that.
Having a clear picture of how you compare to your competitors and using that information to make smarter, better decisions is crucial if you want to secure success.