Competitive Analysis

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Sea Ray, a sleek, fast boat. The Sea Ray was
fulfilling the same basic need as a Corvette --
a sporty vehicle that made the buyer feel
young and would impress friends, especially of
the opposite sex. Similarly, television and the
Internet itself are's indirect
competitors because each product competes
for attention in a consumer's leisure time.
Future competitors are existing companies
that are not yet in the marketplace that you
intend to occupy, but could move there at any
time. One obvious source of future
competition is an indirect competitor. As soon
as an indirect competitor sees you having
success in their area with a different product,
they may try to duplicate your offerings and so
they become a direct, perhaps formidable,
competitor. Federally-Qualified Health Centers
or FQHCs may be a good example of this kind
of future competition in your area.
Identifying all existing and potential sources of
competition is an impossible task, indirect and
future competitors can number in the tens,
hundreds, or even thousands. Instead, you will
have to draw the line somewhere when it
comes to identifying major competitors -- the
ones that are going to have a real impact on
your business over time.
While the nature of competition in your
industry will determine the number of major
competitors you must consider in the
competitor analysis, identify 7-10 direct
competitors (if you can) and 3-5 indirect and
future competitors. From this list, 2-3 direct
competitors and 1 indirect and 1 future
competitor should be analyzed in depth. The
number of competitors you analyze is not as
important as their competitive positioning and
the depth of your analysis. A comprehensive
analysis will convince a potential partner that
your strategy is soundly based.
Finding your competitors: Who are your
competitors? How do you find them? Not only
are there advanced search tools available to
assist you in finding competitors, but their
motivation to have a high profile on the
Internet makes it impossible for competitors
to hide from your searching efforts. So, the
most logical and best place to start looking for
As each competitor is identified, visit their
Web site and form some initial impressions
about how much of a major competitor they
are. Your focus here is on same or similar
target markets, products, and value
propositions; don't let a flashy Web site
convince you that this is a major competitor
when the value proposition is all wrong.
Sort competitors into three groups -- direct,
indirect, or future. Within each group, develop
a "quick and dirty" ranking scheme (e.g., rate
on a scale of 1-10, how similar are their target
markets, products and services, and value
proposition to yours). Your goal in this first
step is to produce a ranked short list of major
Practical exercise: Find, list, and rank 7-10
direct competitors, or fewer if less than seven
major competitors can be found. Find, list, and
rank 3-5 indirect competitors and 3-5 future
competitors for your agency.
Analyzing Your Competition
Creating a competitor analysis grid (or use the
one provided above): With a list of competitors
in hand, the next step is to conduct a
methodical analysis of their strengths and
weaknesses. Why is this important? It is a
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