Understanding the competition is one of the most important things you can do as a business owner. If you know what your competitors want and how they’re likely to try and get it, you can make sure your own plans take those likely events into account. If you can’t at least try to predict what your rivals are going to be doing then you’re likely to be in receipt of some unpleasant surprises over the months to come.
But how can you find out what your competitors are going to do next? Today we’re taking a look at this important question.
One important facet of your competitor research is looking at what they’ve done in the past and using that to predict what they’re going to do in the future. When you’ve identified your key competitors, look back at how they’ve behaved in the past. When do they tend to run sales – do they recur at a predictable time every year? What did they do in the run up to a new product launch? If you can find a pattern in their marketing, in their events, then you can see those things coming earlier.
This can take a lot of work and data analysis, and it might be worth your while to look at consultants who can take this on for you. The right competitive intelligence consultants have more specialised resources and specific expertise in this area, and could repay your investment many times over in insights.
Use Your Contacts
Depending on the size of your industry and the shared contacts you have, you might be able to pick up grape-vine rumours of what your competitors are planning. If you use the same suppliers or couriers, their availability or lack thereof might tell you something about how busy your rivals in the industry are, and if they’re building up to something.
Wargaming and Benchmarking
Competitor wargaming is the process of divining likely actions from your competitors in given circumstances. It’s most often useful when conducted with consultants who will bring a wealth of insight and data to the exercise. This is a great way to test your plans against your competitors, by making some educated guesses about how they’ll react and revising your plans accordingly. If you know it’s likely they could drop their prices to undermine your new product, you can come up with some offers to neuter that tactic, for example.
Competitor benchmarking is the process of measuring your competitors against you to see just how competitive they are – who the runners and riders are in your field, and where you rank. It’s a useful tool to help you prioritise your competitors and identify which ones you really need to worry about.
Taken together, you can use all this research to feel confident you know what your competitors will be doing next!