Data is the big watchword of business in the digital age. The most important thing you can have is data – data to ensure your products are tuned to your customers needs and (possibly even more important) expectations, data to target your marketing campaigns, data to help you set prices and sale dates.
The biggest pot of data often talked about is the one relating to your customers, your market research data. This is definitely vital for any business – it’s extremely hard to operate efficiently if you don’t know who your customers are and what they want – but it’s also not the be all and end all of data. Today we’re taking a look beyond Consumer Market Research to tell you about the other kind of data your business needs.
The other major players that affect your business – next to your customers – are your competitors, the other businesses operating in your space, both local and conceptual. It’s important to know who your competition are and what they’re doing, to enable you to effectively plan around it. You don’t necessarily need to be aiming to outgrow all of them, you just need to factor them into your plans. You’re not going to outcompete Amazon in a straight fight, but you do need to understand that they’re a part of the landscape you’re trading in, and the effect they have on that landscape.
There’s a certain amount of competitor research you can do yourself – it’s not hard to find out who’s in business in the area around you, and get a sense of how they compare in size and offering. If you’re selling paint and building supplies in a medium-sized town, you know about the Farrow & Ball showroom among the boutiques on the expensive end of the high street, and the B&Q on the outskirts of town.
What you need are details, though, and the reach to assess other businesses that it’s harder to get a sense of locally – online retailers, larger but more distant outlets, brands sold through general purpose shops.
Commissioning a competitor strategy analysis from specialist consultants gets you both the overview and detailed data you need. Competitive insight is drawn from lots of different sources – from publicly posted financials, from forms of consumer market research and from deep wells of data about previous behaviour, which taken together can help you understand how your competitors are likely to behave, and how the market might respond.
The advantage this gives you is that you can plan around your competitors. Co-existence (or outcompeting them) is much easier when you’re not blunting your marketing spend trying to get attention on your products or sales at the same time as a rival. Bidding on the same keywords, warring over the same customers means you get less results for each penny spent, but finding the white space means more attention and better results!