Considering the ever-increasing market competition, keeping tabs on the competitors is a crucial business activity for any modern business. Competitor research has become so important for most companies that some even hire external professionals to track competitors and assess the competitive landscape on a regular basis. However, developing a competitor research template need not always be complicated, time-consuming, and an expensive process, given the new wealth of data that can be assembled using the Internet. Here’s how your business can benefit from competitive research, how to develop a competitor research template and the most productive competitor research tools:
Step 1: Identify the source of research
The first step in developing a competitor research template is to determine whether to gather information in-house or hire a professional firm or consultant. One of the key benefits of hiring a consultant includes that they may have more expertise in gathering information and other intelligence data when compared an in-house research team. However, this does not mean that you completely rule out the advantages of having an in-house competitor research team. They would be able to understand the business better and easily establish the competitive factors they want to track. Businesses must undertake a pros and cons evaluation of both the methods and choose the one that is best suited for their business.
Step 2: Create a framework
Creating a framework is an essential step in gathering the required data for competitive research. It is important to carry out a SWOT analysis of the company and includes the key brand differentiators (What are the messaging, product/service offerings that set the business apart from their competition?). It also includes defining the company’s mission and vision. All these factors help to identify the goals of the company and how they want to differentiate themselves from other players in the market.
Step 3: Select targets
It might prove helpful for companies to think of your competition in terms of options that their customers have i.e. where else can customers go to purchase the products and services that they are offering. That can include identifying the direct competitors (those who sell the same thing as you do) and indirect competitors (those who sell other products and services that serve the same purpose).
Step 4: Understand competitor tactics
Apart from using competitor research tools to identify what competitors say about themselves, it is equally important to know if and how they deliver on those promises. However, this data could prove to be a little challenging to uncover. Apart from undertaking secondary research, one of the ideal ways to do this is to ask the customers. This is one of the best ways to identify the alternative your target customers would choose and why they would do so.
Step 5: Gather and update information
Once a comprehensive overview of the competitive landscape is created, companies must constantly update the data collected. This includes identifying new products, services and/or pricing in the market, new geographies for operation, and new advertising or other outbound communications strategies.