No single business has the world to itself. Companies will always be at odds of each other to the point where you might as well consider it the law of the market. Although chaotic at times, this does not have to be a bad thing. Competition allows businesses to grow through the universal desire to one-up each other. A specific component that allows this growth is research and nobody can afford to neglect it. Getting it right allows for companies to get head starts that they normally wouldn’t be able to enjoy or remain on track if things are going well. Sounds quite nice, doesn’t it? Well, it’s also easier said than done.
The Art of War: Business Edition
The introduction of liberal ideas to the business world led to even greater struggles to gain profit and expand. Freedom from the tight control of monarchies allowed for intense competition to brew further among all players across the board. It is often a race against both time and the competition in order to get the best perks, find the cheapest and most skilled labor, acquire the most efficient technology, and more. As the years progressed, so too did the market trends. Take the rise of computer software and artificial intelligence for example. Both needed tons of research by developers and users just to be able to stay on top of it all.
If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, it’s the fact that excellent leadership is still an absolute necessity. One can liken it to the cunning needed by generals involved in every war there ever was and will be just to come out as the victor. Remember that leadership doesn’t just involve force of personality. It also requires the right information to back up every decision that needs to be made. In knowing the field you’re playing on, you acquire greater advantages that will supplement your critical thinking and facts-based judgement. Any hope of withstanding the onslaught of a competitive market is lost without the necessary competitor research.
What is a Competitor Research?
Competitor research is one example of the vital analytics needed by companies for survival and success. It includes finding critical points to boost advertisements, enhance customer experience, and devise means of maximize profits. The primary focus of this particular type of research is to deal with the presence of competitors. Thus, a comparative approach is often the right tactical move. Moreover, identifying them is the first among the tasks. And it also includes risk assessment together with strengths and weaknesses evaluation about your business and the competitors as well.
What are the Arenas of Competition?
Knowing your competitors well, whether you have the same offers, customers, and methods, will open you to enhance your game plans and means. The more means at your disposal, the more chances you will gain leverage. The items below represent the key arenas where competition is currently at its peak.
According to Statista, the US ads expenditure within 2015-2019 had an increasing trend from about 183 billion USD to almost 241 billion USD. The bulk of those expenses went to TV ads, which makes the television a considerable battleground for any business. All of them are itching to promote a product with all the creativity and strategies employed to win over customers. Included in the ads drive is gaining a foothold on the internet. The net has an estimated 4.54 billion active users as of January 2020, according to J. Clement, and that makes it a potential avenue for ads to gain attention. With many users, you can increase the chances that clicks leading to purchases can happen.
Grabbing top spot on the search list is critical, as only a few would go deeper to the next page of every search engine result. And according to Hubspot research, 75% of users stick to the first page. Thus, tactical SEO strategies are always on the move to grab that vast number of active internet users. Going digital is a new playing ground that everybody is joining. Content marketing is also a crucial part in generating leads as the more relevant the article is, the more it will land on the top page. Moreover, Content Marketing Institute claims that 80% of consumers and clients would prefer to educate themselves rather than clicking on ads. Thus, giving more weight to making worthy contents fit for the first page. This situation makes the battleground extended towards hiring the best writing talent available.
Getting the much-needed press coverage is a huge advantage. Not only does your business get featured, but also the press’s authenticity and authority packs added punch to your image. Once featured on a trusted media outlet, automatically makes your products and services deserve the same level of trust. Moreover, trusted media is also the people’s choice. Other than having your reliability and credibility boost in the coverage, you also amplify the audience range of your business. And who would want to subscribe to unqualified media outlets? Who would believe your ads in an untrustworthy domain?
Capturing a market means getting the best ground. Knowing where the customers are, and the location’s convenience for business is crucial in making comfort profitable. You cannot just set-up a shopping center in the middle of a jungle. Thus, in competing, using the terrain to your advantage is crucial, which even includes knowing the players around the community. The lesser the players, the more chances of grabbing customers. Targeting critical logistical locations is also an advantage as it makes the business efficient. And since every business is on the race, make sure that you carve the best path to make everything smooth, fast, productive, and useful.
Who Are You Up Against?
Anybody who poses a risk to your business is always your competitor. However, it is essential to narrow it down to specifics to create concrete targets for your competitor researches.
Similar Products and Services
Selling the same thing with other businesses will spell intense competition as branding strategies, quality enhancements, and marketing styles will undergo the test. Gaining a competitive advantage is critical so that you can develop loyalty from your clients. You need to serve them well with what they demand, and serve them better than the others. Although it would be unfair to smear the other companies, a healthy way of competing is always to promote that your offers are better without discrediting others. An ethical and fair product or service promotion plan is essential as it will lay the path for competitiveness. Plus, you can even employ SWOT analysis to grasp the weaknesses and strengths of your competitors, which can make your strategies better. As a business, always think of the customers on why they would prefer your offers and not the others.
Similar Target Market
Having the same or at least similar target markets mean that you will be struggling to get the customers’ attention. Moreover, pricing strategy dynamics will be at play since you need to attract people to your products. You need to serve the plate well as what the customers want it because they can quickly jump ship to readily available ones nearby. Luring people to make a purchase needs a market analysis that can keep you updated with vital information. Every angle needs inspecting so that you do not want the other competitors to gain leverage through a blind spot you failed to notice. Customer profiling comes in useful, such as their preferences, the media they frequently use, and their economic status. You need to hit the customers right where they are capable of making purchases and addressing their needs.
Undeniably, technology plays a significant role in today’s business. And according to Statista, digital marketing shows a staggering amount of expected expenditure of 306 billion USD in 2020. Think of the thrust companies are into nowadays. And their efforts led to the accumulation of such amount to get ahead of each other. Most companies jive along with the trend leading them to have similar technological platforms. Undeniably, having the platform technology mastery makes it a massive advantage over the others. Part of the digital thrust includes social media marketing.
It has become a hotbed for marketing, since according to the 2019 Global Digital Report that social media users were reaching 3.5 billion. And what business would not want to make use of those numbers? Unless a new upgrade is under the monopoly of a single company, then the competition will be unbalanced. But since updates and development are within reach, then it is a matter of purchasing and hiring competent people to optimize the tech. And since almost everybody is in this contemporary platform, creating strategies to outdo the other is part of the daily task.
Why Does Knowledge Equate to Power?
Knowing ahead brings a lot of advantages, and for businesses, getting ahead of the other means a lot. From what clicks to new tricks, everything should be under the careful eye for every manager as they could all lead to winning the race. Do remember that your business is not alone, and many are also hungry in gaining profit. So better enhance the analytics to provide you with a knowledge advantage.
A Game of Chess
In chess, every move is crucial for the win, and a simple slip can mean everything. Looking at your opponent’s steps and trying to figure out their tactics is key to winning. Much so, studying their strengths and weaknesses to your advantage will always be worthwhile. Knowing the pieces you have is also understanding the market tools at your disposal. Moreover, you need to make sure that you maximize each piece’s functions to work to your advantage. And Napoleon Bonaparte once said: “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”
Sometimes you land in the pitfall that your competitors want you to be, and that is why you either need to know in advance or have backups for the inevitable. And when you are really inside the ditch due to marketing errors, then prop up a brand analysis to see where you went wrong and where you can recuperate. When you have the luxury in devoting competitor research, then make sure it creates useful data that can put you ahead of anybody. Once in a while, trying seeing how well others are doing in facing the same situation as yourself. Or examine how your competitor fare with other businesses.
Customer Profiling 2.0
Although you can rely on general and observable customer trends, doing research can further give details that you can manipulate. Customer data is vital as selecting the most effective means to capture their interests and pockets will be more comfortable. It is not enough to label people as millennials and others as other peculiarities need more digging. Market firms even thirst for the big data that social media tech giant has about people. And talk about effective ad placement due to that data. Thus, you need your research arm as well to gather that critical information.
A competitor research is not only about the playing field and others but also to your business as well. Every study that attempts to elucidate the details of others creates a mandatory self-reflection. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses also means having to face yours. Thus, consider the effort to be two-way, i.e., both knowing others and knowing yourself. And as the old Socratic adage goes: “know thyself.”
A business will always be a tough venture. Many companies emerge and dissolve throughout the years, making the playing field seem unpredictable. Moreover, the presence of stronger competitors tightens the noose for those who are struggling. But those who spend enough resources and effort to know the players are will always have an advantage. Knowledge is power, and research is a gateway to it. Use your resources well, and you can thrive skillfully like following the business’ version of the art of war.