6 Ways to Get Actionable Business Insights by Analyzing Your Competition
Beating your competition is almost impossible unless you know who exactly your direct/indirect competitors are, what their workforce structure looks like, and what they are doing right/wrong with their workflow and product delivery. Developing an extraordinary competitive program requires collecting extraordinary data and top-tier competitive intelligence that your stakeholders can actually use to their advantage.
Sadly, detailed competitor analysis isn’t a process that only involves a couple of Google searches and a quick email or Slack message to your team members. It’s a bit more complex than that.
Only through gathering deep competitive insights that go beyond surface-level data can your business acquire valuable information on how your competitors are tweaking their winning strategies. This type of analysis can also tell you what their mistakes are and how you can leverage them to build a better product.
On the other hand, getting an overwhelming amount of data is often counter-productive and can result in getting lost in a sea of information that prevents you from seeing the forest for the trees.
To mitigate this scenario, we’ve boiled down this process into 6 key steps.
Identify Your Competitors
A great place to begin is identifying who your direct and indirect competitors are.
These are businesses that target the same portion of your target market by providing the same or extremely similar service/product. This means that your potential clients are likely to directly compare your business with them before making their final decision. Examples would include Coke and Pepsi, PS and Xbox, McDonald’s and Burger King, Apple and Samsung, Space X and Blue Origin, Boeing vs Airbus, etc.
Your indirect competitors are those companies that provide a different type of product and/or service, but they fulfill the same consumer need. Tracking and analyzing the activity of these businesses can be useful, but I suggest focusing on examining your direct competition. Examples of indirect competitors would include Kindle and paperback books, take-away fast-food chains and restaurants in the same areas, workout apps and personal trainers, etc.
A good practice is to start with a wider list, then narrow it down to 10ish competitors that you will investigate lightly. From these 10, choose 3 to 5 businesses that offer the product/service closest to yours.
Examine Their Service and Product Development Cycle
To perfect your own product, you need to first try out your competitors’ solutions. Once you have a taste of what they are offering and what the best features of their product and product development cycle are, you will be able to realize how to improve your own productivity levels.
Maybe even more importantly, by analyzing their mistakes and bad product/service features, you will be able to exploit this knowledge and iron those issues out for your own product. It is a good idea to closely study the differences and introduce a new spin to your solution and its underlying features.
Analyze the Workforce of Your Direct Competitors
Getting granular workforce data about your direct competitors can help you realize how their departments and teams are structured, what type of employees they see as their star players and how (and why) they are investing in each department.
Osterus can provide a deep dive into competitors’ data including workforce structure, loyalty levels, knowledge scores, diversity, career insights, hiring bias, and other useful information capable of providing you with a clear picture of what your competition is up to in terms of their:
- Hiring processes
- HR operations
- Potential pivoting strategies
- M&As, etc.
This data can be extremely valuable for staying in the relevance loop with those who target the same portion of your target market.
Examine Their Product/Service Delivery
Whether you’re just starting out or you already have a developed product, it is always useful to take a look at competitors’ overall business delivery so you can learn from them and see how your delivery systems and business operations compare.
Here’s what you should analyze:
- The way your competition is assisting their consumers with product/service selection — how they use case studies, content, videos, descriptions, imagery, testimonials; what data they provide about their service.
- Their pricing plans, transaction process, order placements, etc.
- How they provide their services or products to their clients/customers; how they manage physical delivery (if relevant); how they manage their customer support (do they outsource it or have an in-house team).
- How they induce upsell, cross-sells, do they have referral programs, etc.
- How they collect and use customer feedback…
Whether you have a digital or physical product, it is a good practice to become the competitor’s customer yourself to experience first-hand how their product/service delivery works.
Find Out Where Your Competitors are Failing
Although your direct competitors’ websites may look and feel polished and perfect at a first glance, rarely do businesses manage to provide overall services that are 100% ideal for their consumers. Finding where exactly they are failing will provide you with useful insights on where the room for improvement is so you can leverage those gaps.
Try to figure out:
- If their clients have complained, but the response never came. This can help you improve your own customer service.
- If there have been misunderstandings or miscommunications with their product or service. This can help you advertise and describe your product in a better and more transparent way.
- If their quality control failed with their own or third-party products. Helpful for your own offer tailoring and quality control improvement.
- If the consumers are consistently complaining about a specific feature or a lack thereof. This can be a great opportunity for you to fill that content/feature gap.
You can use review sites like Google My Business, Trustpilot, regular Google Reviews, social media and other similar channels to search for customer feedback on your competition, while you can also use Glassdoor to get both current and former employee feedback about these companies.
Needless to say, online reviews can easily be manipulated so don’t forget to add a pinch of salt to the mix while reading them.
Mitigate the Pitfalls of the Competitor Analysis Process
Going back to the point I’ve made earlier in this article, the competitor analysis process does have its potential issues. Here are some mistakes you should avoid:
The Analysis Paralysis
It is critical not to overdo it, so make sure you don’t obsessively research every single possible competitor you come across. You’ll just get lost in the information noise that is counter-productive.
Intimidation and the Imposter Syndrome
You are likely to find competitors who are way ahead of you and you may feel like you’ll never manage to escape their dust. Brands that are already established may seem too intimidating and is important that you don’t succumb to these emotions — so be sure to never end up doubting your own product, skills and progress.
Taking All “Good” Components of a Competitor Strategy for Granted
Ensure that you don’t assume that everything your successful competitor is doing will work for you as well. Certain components of their business strategy may work for them but could be wrong in your own business context and circumstances.
Over to You
Gleaning valuable insights from your competition is a great way to move forward. But once you start feeling like you’ve exhausted every resource they can offer, be sure to always go back and shift your focus to what your ideal customer persona is expecting from your brand. Your existing and future consumers are those who should have the final say. It is up to you to listen to them carefully.
If you need more information about how Osterus can help you analyze your competitors and get actionable insights for your own growth strategy, please contact me directly or schedule a demo of our product here.