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Guest Column: Know Your Competitors

Know Your Competitors


March 6, 2008
By Susan Friedmann

Topics

To succeed in today’s aggressive and fast-changing
marketplace companies/organizations need to continually identify their
competitive advantage to either hold or increase market share.

To succeed in today’s aggressive and fast-changing marketplace companies/organizations need to continually identify their competitive advantage to either hold or increase market share. They need an in-depth understanding of the competitive dynamics of their market.

The following is a list of 38 questions to help compile a constructive competitive intelligence program:

General questions:
1. Who are our competitors – direct and indirect (i.e. current market participants; potential market  entrants and providers of substitute products/services)?

2. Which of our competitors pose a threat to us?

3. What are important differences among our competitors?

4. Where are they located and is their location a competitive advantage?

5. How long have they been in business and what is their reputation/image in the marketplace?

6. What is their market share?

7. What is their corporate and business philosophy and how is it implemented?

8. What important acquisitions have competitors made in the past year and how has this given them a     competitive advantage?

Product/Service based questions:
9. What is the depth and breadth of their products/services?

10. What are their product/service features/specifications?

11. What are their most recent product/service introductions?

12. How well do competitors deliver orders on schedule?

13. What changes are taking place in competitors’ make/buy strategies?

14. What new materials are being used in the industry? Do they provide a cost advantage?

15. How have competitors incorporated cost savings?

16. Who are our competitors’  suppliers?

17. How easy are their products to install or maintain?

18. What are the competitors’ strengths/weakness in quality and service?

Sales/Marketing based questions:
19. What is their marketing and sales strategy?

20. How is their sales force organized – by product line; geographic market or end-user?

21. Who are their largest and most important customers?

22. What group of customers does our competition sell to that we don’t and why have they been successful in this market?

23. Which group is least satisfied and why?

24. Why are customers switching to competitors’ products/services?

25. What new distribution channels have they developed?

26. What medium other than tradeshows do they use to market their products/services?

27. Which products/services are they pushing?

28. Which features are they emphasizing?

29. What are their pricing strategies – commercial, nonprofit, government and foreign sales?

30. What special pricing policies do they offer – credit, discounts, incentives, consignments?

Customer based questions:
31. What do customers consider most valuable about our competitors’ products/services?

32. Why are they satisfied with their current supplier?

33. What might induce them to switch to another vendor?

34.  What are their principal complaints?

35. Which companies do they see as the market leaders in our industry?

36. Which of their needs are going unfulfilled?

37. What do they see as the key factors in purchasing decisions?

38. How are changes in the industry affecting them?•