One of the foremost and extremely vital parts of strategic planning is studying the competitors, i.e. competitive research. Analyzing how your competitors operate, what their key strategies are, and also engaging in social media analytics, are just a few of the many parameters to consider here. These are not simply parameters to study; these are, in fact, the key performance indicators that will also help you to assess how your business is performing.
Comparison and continuous improvement, by way of strategic planning, are the key to survival amidst a cut-throat competitive environment. And strategic planning can be taken to the next level with the help of in-depth competitive research. This is because competitive research –
Helps enhance services and products
You are a part of this rat race where your competitors are launching ace products and services to serve the same set of audiences. Understanding their products and services or, what they are providing and how you can make your products and services stand out will help you go a long way. Look at the price points they offer, think whether or not you can incorporate a few more features, and remodel it to present it to your clients at a similar cost. Analyze how good that will do to your brand and adopt the changes accordingly.
Helps bridge gaps in the marketplace
There will be certain gray areas that your competitors might have overlooked. A detailed analysis will help you understand what is and what can be once your strategic planning gains traction and you start to reap the benefits by filling up those gaps aggressively. You can use a competitor map, a tool, to understand a lot about where your competitors are lagging.
Help understand prevalent market trends
Understanding the market trends is yet another part of your strategic planning that cannot be done without the support of competitive research. The market trends will tell you how to present your services/products to increase sales. It is also a necessary step that will tell you whether or not you need to enhance your products/services. Sometimes, going against the trend might prove beneficial, for instance, one might discover that every one of its competitors is selling croissants while a very limited yet loyal set of target customers who are looking for macaroons, and pretzels are left out. Now, the person will start selling macaroons and pretzels to get the left out and unnoticed segment into their pockets.
Helps develop a solid marketing plan
Today, as we know, marketers aim at providing “value” and “ease” to their customers. When a product or service is fortified with value, benefit, and ease, the desirability of the product or service increases tenfold. So, it is crucial to analyze the opponents’ initiatives taken to develop a given product or service.
Understanding the buying sentiment of the customers is a vital step; what they think they are buying is far more significant than what they are investing in! Going through the client testimonials or reviews can help you understand how your competitors’ products or services are performing. You will also get to know a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of a product or service.
For instance, a software developer may well understand what his competitors are presenting to their audience in the market. If one competitor claims that their software is “convenient for customers to use”, then note that their product highlights “ease”. Now, to counter this marketing strategy, the developer can remodel his software and ask the same set of target audiences to try it first and then believe in the usability of the software. To do this, he will start providing a “get free trials” option to the clients. When the software developer can vouch for his product, he can easily understand that people will come back to him after using the software.
Strategic planning helps design market entry
If you want to be successful in the market, your entry and product launching time need to be perfect. We know of companies who want their products to be launched in the market first. Some follow the first-movers in the market to see how the market is reacting to the products or services launched by the first-movers. Then they schedule their product launching strategy accordingly. By doing competitive analysis, you will be able to gather the schedule of all the product launches to compete with your opponents. This way, you will be able to establish a timeline of your own to plan the development of your product or service followed by the launching.
Competitive research plays a pivotal role in creating a worthwhile strategic plan. It is interesting how companies are taking it seriously to move ahead of one another even though the competition is quite stiff.