I worked for an exec who used to say: “Not knowing why you are failing (or why you are succeeding) is critical to your business’ success.” He was most critical about lack of knowledge about driving your success. I have found that lack of business, market, and competitive insights are issues for many businesses, and I start new relationships by reading and reviewing every insight the management team can produce. Many desired insights are usually missing.
One of the first areas to dig into are situations when a business is losing share in key customer accounts and/or in key markets. You know the competitors, but you don’t know why they are building momentum as you lose it.
Many businesses perform superficial competitor analysis, using websites and Hoovers to build a profile. This data is incomplete and inconsistent, never assembled into a full picture, and lacks insights into strategy and competitive advantage. Looking at competitors’ website is a superficial way of understanding their business…it’s good to understand their positioning and value propositions and may tell you something about their go-to-market approach but does not provide strategic insights. Without strategic insights, how will you design a strategy to beat them?
I have developed a 360-degree process that builds a deep profile in four areas: Competitor Profile, Strategy and Performance; Value Proposition and Positioning; Operations Analysis; Implications and Recommendations (including SWOTs, Force-Field Analysis).
After presenting the deep analyses to the management team, we conduct a competitor-gaming exercise where we divide up the team and draw out anticipated strategies for the client and the competitor. This enhances corporate knowledge, adapts strategy, and helps the business build an evergreen competitor review process.