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Ways to Better Understand Your Competitors – Advantages in Many Forms | MSU Online

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Do your employees have the education and training they need? How do your compensation and benefits compare to the industry norm? Do you reward exceptional performance? How does your turnover rate compare to the industry norm? How important to you is growth? Market share? Maximizing profits? How much do you want market share to grow in the short run? In the long run? And profits? Eliminate those opportunities that are mismatches. Analyze the remaining opportunities using one or more of the following approaches: Total profit approach Return on Investment approach Expected value approach Boston Consulting Group approach The measurement criteria used to evaluate each of these opportunities should include both quantitative and qualitative components.

Quantitative components would summarize the objectives of the firm and include items like sales, return on investment and profit targets. Qualitative components would consist of issues summarized to address the following types of questions: What kind of business does my firm want to be in?

What business should I exclude? What weaknesses should I avoid? What strengths and trends should I build in? Defining the Process In simple terms, the process of gaining a competitive edge consists of several steps: Discovering what your capabilities and resources are in your target market.

Finding a place in the market where you will be able to position those capabilities. Developing a strategy to capture and maintain your position. Implementing and fine tuning your strategy. To improve the odds that successful competitive strategies are developed and implemented, the following factors should be considered: Personal Strengths.

Company Strengths. Market Position Competition Market Trends There is no single factor which dictates what your firm needs to do in the market. Factors you may wish to consider in improving your operational efficiency would include the following: Try to match all your business activities with real and distinct customer needs.

You will need to identify all of your customers needs and align or adjust all of your activities to ensure customer satisfaction.

If you are currently expending time and resources for activities which do not correspond to specific customer needs, reduce or eliminate these activities entirely. This reduction may involve outsourcing and worker elimination, an investment in more state-of-the-art products to improve efficiency, or a conversion from manual to automated systems for inventory or billing.

Develop job descriptions providing for cross-functional responsibilities which requires everyone to be responsible for customer service. Suppose you wanted to lower production costs. Each of your departments would need to work with one other as a team to identify ways to simplify processes and lower costs.

Develop a screening process for suppliers, distributors and other vendors that ensures cost efficiency and timely transfer of products or services to your customer. It requires that you outperform your competition as follows: Respond rapidly to changes in market demand by adjusting your product or service.

Ensure that each customer is provided with a quality product that has the reliability and consistency to satisfy their needs. Control production costs to provide your customers with your product or service at a competitive price. If your firm wishes to gain a competitive edge through customer service, the following factors should be considered: Flexibility.

Try to be flexible in delivering your products or services to your customer. Can you deliver different assortments to different shoppers? Relationship selling building long term relationships with your customers should be encouraged.

Ensure that an infrastructure exists to provide a customer service information system capable of collecting and analyzing customer data to be used by both management and employees for making intelligent customer service decisions.

If you want to gain your competitive edge through customer service, you must outperform your competition in the following areas: Make sure your product is tailored to the individual needs of your customers. Make sure your customer service is tailored to individual needs. Make an effort to provide relevant information and service to each customer segment. If product leadership is the competitive edge your firm wishes to adopt or maintain, the following factors need to be considered: Your firm must ensure that there is effective two-way communication with your customers.

Management, production and engineering personnel should talk with customers, distributors and dealers to learn how your products are being used and to identify new challenges that are facing your customers. One effective way to get useful feedback from your customers is to establish focus groups to discuss their challenges and opportunities. Will you support them then? Or will you leave them high and dry to deal with the trouble? To put it simply, a value proposition VP tells your customers how you provide value in a way that nobody else does.

But, a value proposition is not the same as a tagline. Even though you may be using it to describe what you sell, a tagline does not convey your key difference in the marketplace. It should quickly separate you from your competition. A customer asking what makes you different than a competitor reveals not only an intention to buy, he also reveals the final choice of alternatives. It may seem natural to jump right in and trash talk any other solutions they named.

After all, you want a customer to believe that your product is better, right? For most products, picking the right solution is an overwhelming task. Customers need to select a product they know very little about it. Therefore, compliment them on their choice instead.

Instead, you focus on the existing market rate for your products or services. You then set your price to fall within the range of prices that your competitors offer. Since the market is segmented by lower, middle, and upper-tiered customers, you need to figure out which group is your audience. Once you have that determined, you are in a better place to set your prices.

Urban Outfitters created a powerful disruptive force because it hired artists instead of businesspeople to manage its stores. They had freedom in shaping the interiors of their stores, and the result was remarkable. Urban Outfitters beat its competition by changing the traditional retail model: Its customers learned that choosing Urban Outfitters meant walking into a different store every time instead of experiencing the monotony associated with many retailers.

Identifying a model that can be changed, and executing these changes can take months, if not years, but you can easily start this journey using your own products and services. For example, you could boost the capabilities of your current business processes using virtual reality applications like Samsung Gear VR.

Giants like Nokia and BlackBerry were wiped out from the smartphone market because of lack of innovation. Remember, your competitors are regularly innovating, and new entrants are disrupting the marketplace. Your business should innovate often and in a manner that the competition finds hard to imitate. Bottom line: When assessing which of these ways to beat your competition is best, define your brand, set a unique selling proposition, and stay ahead of your competition in terms of quality, price, and customer service.

Providing great, and memorable, customer service is a great way to build loyalty among your customers and differentiate yourself from the competition. Put a priority on hiring employees who have a full understanding of not just your products and services, but your brand as a whole. Success is not achieved by ignoring your competitors but rather by anticipating competitive issues and influences so you can always have a proactive plan and strategy for staying ahead of your competition.

Before you can develop a winning competitive strategy, you need to understand the market forces that affect competition. Then you need to do your homework in the form of competitive research and analysis in your field and your community. Insurance companies continue to put downward pressure on reimbursement rates. Although levels of reimbursement vary from one plan to the next, the general trend can be expected to continue. More large companies with self-insured plans are continued to exert more leverage and pressure on providers to deliver services at increasingly competitive meaning lower rates in order to keep their business.

In markets where a few major employers have a big impact on the community, this pressure can also have an impact on business over time — more work for the same or even less reimbursement if you want business from employers. With increasing pressures from more competition fighting over a perpetually shrinking pie, aggressive marketing tactics almost always and inevitably increase — whether or not they are effective.

Not all tactics are overt, not all are even strategic. In this kind of environment, regardless of the market or the industry, the businesses with the smartest strategy, the strongest message, the most aggressive tactics and the most unwavering commitment inevitably win. Aggressive does not have to mean unethical, by the way — nor should it. The reference librarian will show you how to find pertinent articles online much more quickly and easily than you’ll find them by browsing.

Reference Books and Databases The publications listed in this section are available at most public and college libraries that have business resources. Ask a librarian to help you find them, as many are likely to be online and not listed in the library catalog. State agency publications such as industry directories, and statistics on local industry employment, production, and equipment capabilities. Data can be selected alphabetically, geographically, by line of business, and officers and directors.

Ward’s Business Directory of U. Private and Public Companies annual , provides profiles of over , companies small and mid-size companies as well as large corporations, most privately held across the U. Profiles include assets, gross earnings, revenues, and other pertinent information. Online versions of these products not only make their pertinent statistics easy to find.

They often permit you to download data so you can combine it with other data to produce your own statistics. Annual Reports If your competitor is a publicly-held company, many of its reports to the U. Annual reports provide financial information, including sales volume, revenue increases, and their total market share. Annual reports from privately-held corporations are sometimes available through friends, relatives, and business acquaintances who own stock in a competitor’s company.

Your Sales Force Your sales staff probably has more access to competitive information than anyone else in your organization. Customers often show salespeople sales literature, contracts, price quotes, and other information from competitors. Part of a salesperson’s job is to get customers to discuss problems they have with a competitor’s product. Customers will also reveal your competition’s product benefits, strengths, and customer service programs.

Instruct your sales force to ask for copies of any competitive literature if and when that’s possible. Your entire sales staff should keep a record of all competitive information they discover — even if it’s just a rumor or gossip. Devote a regular portion of each sales meeting to a discussion of the competition. Other Employees Your employees working in other areas of the company also become exposed to competitive information. They interact with others in their industry area and often learn what your rival is doing or hear gossip and rumors.

Make sure your entire staff knows they should share any information concerning the competition immediately. Former employees of a competitor can provide you with insight on: your competitor’s new products, marketing strategies, how-to improve productivity and employ other resources more effectively, and what your competitor’s general working environment is like. Trade Associations Most professional trade associations compile and publish industry statistics and report on industry news and leaders through trade association magazines and newsletters.

Most trade associations also sponsor trade shows and other professional meetings. This is an opportunity to see first-hand what your competition is producing. It also provides the opportunity to discover new players who may soon become your competition.

Direct Observation If you own a flower shop, you should visit all of the flower shops in your geographic region. Act as a prospective customer; ask questions. You can learn about their selection and service and compare it to your own.

Do not use an alias or disguise to gather intelligence from competitors. It may seem like a trivial deception, but it is dishonest, and could come back to haunt you. Call an number and pretend to be a customer with questions and problems. If you sell products through a catalog, you not only want to be on your competition’s mailing list; you should order a product from them to determine how long it takes to arrive, the method of shipment, and how it was packaged.

Buy your competitor’s products. Products can be evaluated and reverse engineered to provide meaningful information about your competitor’s capabilities and weaknesses, technological innovations, manufacturing costs and methods. Your Competitors You probably see the owner of a rival organization at trade shows, association meetings, and perhaps even socially.

You can garner a great deal of information through a simple, friendly conversation. People like to talk about themselves and share their success stories and concerns with business associates. Assign someone to check the competitions’ Web sites regularly for pertinent changes and news. And take a good look at your own: Do you say anything there that you’d just as soon not have your competitors see? Analyze Competitive Information Once you’ve gathered all of the competitive data you have been able to locate, it’s analysis time.

You should analyze to determine product information, market share, marketing strategies, and to identify your competition’s strengths and weaknesses. Product Evaluation You should know from your sales staff and customer feedback what product features and benefits are most important to your customers and potential customers.

A product’s or service’s competitive position is largely determined by how well it is differentiated from its competition and by its price. Make a list of product features and benefits in order of importance, and prepare a table to show whether or not each of your competitors fulfill them. For example, Medium-sized companies that purchase copier machines may look for the following product benefits and features when making buying decisions: Competing Company: A B C D Features: 1.

 
 

 

– Who are your top 3 competitors – none:

 
Dec 22,  · Walmart has grown substantially over the years and due to which it is a top Target competitor. 2) Amazon Amazon is an electronic commerce and cloud computing company that was formed during the year and is headquartered in Washington, United States. Understand your competitors. Knowing who your competitors are, and what they are offering, can help you to make your products, services and marketing stand out. It will enable you to set your prices competitively and help you to respond to rival marketing campaigns with your own initiatives. You can use this knowledge to create marketing. 3 Types Of Competitors Every Business Shares –