OPINION: Keeping an eye on competitors is vital for business
JOHANNESBURG - While a competitive matrix analysis is now a staple for modern business plans, identifying your business’ competitive advantage during the planning stage is no longer enough to ensure longevity in today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving commercial landscape.
Ongoing monitoring of business competitors has become imperative to stand the test of time.
Luckily, in today’s digital age, few things are kept private and the internet allows for constant real-time review and analysis of competitor data.
From websites and social media pages to advertising campaigns and PR coverage – everything you need on your competitors is just a few clicks away.
It is however important to remember that the goal is to innovate, not imitate. Monitoring should never be a means to blindly duplicate but a strategic tool to achieve the following objectives:.
Through monitoring the movements and strategies employed by competitors, businesses, are able to learn. Assessing unsuccessful tactics or strategies that miss the mark and that resulted in a losses allows business to determine exactly what went wrong and either improve on it or avoid the concept altogether going forward.
The best way to pinpoint areas that may need a little extra work is to acknowledge where similar or competing businesses are doing something better. Take time to assess what they do differently and work out how to adapt to channel similar success.
Knowing who your competitors are, and what they are offering, will also help to make a business’ already successful products, services and marketing tactics stand out. So be sure to take note of areas your business can thrive in and capitalise on those strengths to maintain and strengthen your competitive advantage.
From a purely practical perspective, ongoing competitor analysis is vital for ensuring your products and services remain suitably priced and in accordance with existing market standards. If prices are too low, businesses can miss out on potential profits. But if they are above the market, they may lead to missing out on sales targets.
By keeping an eye on what others are doing, businesses are able to identify potential gaps in the market that they can exploit or areas of the market that are oversaturated. Businesses should always focus on less competitive areas.
Monitoring competitors over time gives a business a good feel for its overarching strategy. It allows them to anticipate the next move and to ensure that they are always one step ahead – something every owner strives for.
Ben Bierman is a managing director at Business Partners Limited.