Every business has competitors. If there is a business niche that’s worth pursuing more than one company will focus on that market. To be successful it is essential that competitors are known. To be competitive it’s necessary to identify the offerings and strategies of the competition. Evaluating these attributes will allow development of competitive strategies. Matching the competition, although necessary, will not result in a winning strategy. For a customer to invest in a relationship with any company there must be distinct perceived advantages. Exceeding the competition will result in service offerings that exceed customer expectations.
Defining the Competition and Your Business
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle … Sun Tzu
Who are they? What works for them? What is their direction? Ask these questions about the competition. But also ask them about your company. In order to compete a clear understanding of both is necessary. Identify the similarities and differences. Being clear about where your business stands in the marketplace as well as where your competition stands is the starting point for developing a winning strategy
Identifying what the competition offers allows recognition of potential weaknesses in marketing strategies. Not every component of a company’s strategy is as effective as desired. Furthermore, certain strategies are developed to mask weaknesses. Knowing the motivation and strength of a competitor’s actions allows development of plans that will be effective in countering their moves. It’s important to pick the right battles and make the best use of available resources.
Establishing a Leadership Position
Invincibility lies in the defense; the possibility of victory in the attack … Sun Tzu
Understanding the competition and knowing how best to deal with their efforts are the makings of a good defense. And a good defense is necessary for a winning formula. But a winning offense must be included in the development of a successful strategy. This requires more than reacting to the competition. It requires actions that compel or demand the competition to react. Marketing programs and service offerings must be developed and improved on an ongoing basis in order to be competitive. A combination of proactive and reactive strategies must be employed to achieve a winning formula.
Developing the Plan
Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat … Sun Tzu
A strategic plan states what will be done. A tactical plan states how it will be done. The impact of strategy will be significantly reduced if no attention is given to tactics. So once a competitive strategy has been developed it is essential that a tactical plan be put into place. A well-developed plan will support successful tactical implementation. A successful strategy supported by a successful tactical plan will build a successful business.