Are You Playing to Win or Playing Not to Lose When it Comes to Doing Competitive Research?

Competition is a staple in the business world . Instead of ignoring your competition, though, recognize that you can learn valuable lessons from them and make a point to check out as much of your competition as possible.

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Play to WIN — not to compete

Have you ever heard sports commentators talk about playing to win versus playing not to lose?  This is exactly the attitude you need to take when it comes to doing competitive research.

First, let me explain the distinction.  Playing not to lose means that you have your eye on the other guy and you are basically running yourself, your staff and your business around trying to anticipate what they are doing and what you should do in response.

Playing to win means that you have your eyes on the prize of getting and keeping your ideal customers by making sure that YOU are the company, product or service that they choose every time regardless of price.

The outlook you choose will drive your market research when it comes to doing competitive analysis.

If you are playing to win — then your focus is squarely on making sure that you are targeting the right customers and that you are very clear on exactly what matters to them when they are buying whatever you are selling.

A new and improved way to look at the competition

But first, let’s get something straight.  Your competition doesn’t just include companies and products that look just like yours — it really includes any other alternative that your customers may consider when they are thinking about buying what you are selling.

1. Discover what Your Competition has to Offer

When you find out what your competition has to offer their customers, you can use this information to make sure you are offering more. For example, if you and your competition are selling similar products, what color choices does your competition offer? What is the price difference between what your competition is selling their products for and what your prices are? What about shipping? In order to bring in new business and retain much of your customer base, you will need to stay competitive. You may gain some fiercely loyal customers by offering exceptional customer service or by going the extra mile but by and large you will need to stay competitive in terms of price and quality.

You might think that you have to be sneaky to find out this information, but that’s not true at all.  The way to get the best information is to survey your ideal customers and find out what matters to them.  Here are a few questions you can ask them:

  • How do you prefer to receive your product?
  • When you’re thinking about purchasing “X” what is the first company that you think of?
  • What time of day are you most likely to shop for “X”?

2. Discover what Your Competition Doesnít Offer

Finding out what your competition doesn’t offer is just as important as finding out what they do offer. If they have limited varieties of a particular item, perhaps you could offer more. If they don’t ship internationally, perhaps you could ship internationally and corner that market. Offering something the competition doesn’t is a strategic marketing technique that savvy Internet marketers use to gain new customers and maintain their customer base.

3. Check out Competitors’ Websites

Study competitors’ websites and measure them against yours. Are they attractively designed and user friendly? Do they offer fresh and useful content that is easy to find? What does your competition have that you don’t? What do you have that your competition doesn’t? By closely studying your competition, you will be better equipped to improve upon your website and customer offerings.

4. Don’t Badmouth the Competition

Never badmouth your competition no matter how ineffective you think they are. Your reputation is everything in this business and you don’t want to be known for badmouthing the competition. Remember, word of mouth travels faster on the Internet and if you have something negative to say about the competition, not only will it be repeated, but it will be traced right back to you.

You can learn a lot from your competition if you will take the time and effort to see what they are up to every now and then. You may learn ways you can improve your website and you may learn more about your customers by discovering what they want and what they don’t want when you visit competition websites. Competition is a good thing. It makes better Internet marketers of us when we have to work hard to shine above the rest.