ChampionThere is a military adage that says, “No strategy ever survives first contact with the enemy.” No business strategy ever survives the first contact with the marketplace either. It must be adjusted to deal with the realities of the moment.

Know Your Enemy
Here is a question for you: Who is your competition? Exactly? Your choice of competitor determines almost everything you do in your market, just as the choice of an adversary determines everything a general does in the process of conducting military operations.

Determine Customers’ Buying Motives
Once you have determined why it is that people buy from you, you must then answer the question “Why do people buy from my competitors? What value or benefits are your potential customers convinced they receive when buying from your competitor rather than from you?”
Marketing Myopia
Many people dismiss or ignore their major competitors. They criticize or belittle them when their names come up. Often they think and say that customers who prefer competitive offerings are simply ignorant or misled. As a result of this self-inflicted myopia, they fail to observe and learn how to outdo their competitors in tough markets.

Offset Competitors’ Advantages
As you study your competitors, look for ways to offset or neutralize the advantages their customers perceive them to have. What are your competitors’ weaknesses? How can you exploit those weaknesses? What do you do better than they do? In what ways are your products or services superior to their offerings? In what areas do you have a distinct advantage over your competitors? What can you do to offset your competitors’ strengths and maximize your own advantages? How can you better position yourself against your competitors in a tough market?

You Must Be Clear
The greater clarity you develop with regard to your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and to the reasons your potential customers buy from them, the better able you will be to counter them and compete effectively. Rigorous competitive analysis can be a vital key to business success. In its absence, you will always be at a disadvantage.

Action Exercises
1. Who is your competition with the exact customers you are trying to attract?
2. What would happen if you changed your offerings in such a way that you targeted a different group of customers who would be easier to sell to?
3. Why do your potential customers buy from your competitors? What advantages do they perceive?
4. What are your competitors’ unique selling propositions? What special feature or benefit do their products or services have that yours does not?
5. In what ways are you superior to your competitors? What can you offer that they cannot? How can you emphasize this advantage in your sales and marketing efforts?
6. Where are your competitors vulnerable? How could you exploit their vulnerability to your advantage?
7. How could you alter your marketing strategy in such a way that you could achieve dominance with a specific customer or market segment in a particular area?

Contribution: Brian Tracy

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