Competitor Analysis

Understanding Your Competitors

In my experience, most companies and organisations tend to track what their competitors are currently doing. However you can’t really make a sound business decision about the future intentions of a competitor based on what has occurred in the past or on what they are currently doing. We all know that the way we operate today is not the same as how we operated a year ago – so why should a competitor be any different?

We need to uncover where they plan to go in the future.  Will you be taking sales from them or will they be taking sales from you – next quarter, next year or even two years from now?

To get a good grasp on your competitors’ real intentions, you need to delve a little more deeply.

SO HERE ARE SEVEN TIPS TO HELP YOU MONITOR YOUR COMPETITORS:

1. BUY THEIR PRODUCT
Always buy your competitor’s product, if possible, to determine their sales process and get on their mailing list to see future promotions. The relatively small price you pay for their product will pay for itself many times over in the knowledge you gain by finding out what they are doing and how they are doing it.

2. AUDIT THEIR WEBSITE
Drop by your competitors’ websites and compare their sites to your own. To go the extra mile, select Tools from the Microsoft Internet Explorer toolbar (if you are using Microsoft) and then “Show Related Links”. Here, you may uncover other companies, doing the same thing or in the same business. Changes to a website can also say a lot about a company. TimelyWeb, by EldoS (www.eldos.org), has several ways of notifying you when page changes occur, including via e-mail.

3. GET THEIR GOSSIP FROM YOUR SALES PEOPLE, DISCUSSION GROUPS, ETC.
Numerous discussion groups are the bars and pubs of the internet, where individuals meet online by sending emails to like-minded people. One of the popular ways to hunt through newsgroups is with Google Groups. Simply type in the subject you are interested in to sort through the web’s 20,000 Usenet discussion groups.  LinkedIn is also pretty good.  And remember to speak to your sales people, customers, distributors, suppliers, industry consultants, industry associations, journalists – to just name a few.

4. CHECK OUT THE CLASSIFIEDS
Is your competitor expanding? Is he or she going in a new direction? You might get a clue through help-wanted advertising. These listings can tell you more about what your competitor is planning.

5. READ UP ON PLANS AND FINANCES
Drop by your industry association’s Internet site. You may find additional information about a member who is your competitor. Perhaps they were interviewed for the association’s website or publication. If your competitor is a large publicly listed organisation, it is required under Australian law to file quarterly and annual financial reports and announce any activities that are likely to be of investor interest (that is have an influence on the share price).

6. ENGAGE A MONITORING SERVICE
By paying for an online monitoring service, such as eWatch, you can outsource the hassle of monitoring domain names, URLs, newsgroups, and websites for activity by your competitors. However, it will cost. Most online companies offer free trials so you can compare them before you commit. Clipping services, such as Media Monitors, provide a daily fax-stream of articles on chosen companies (or search terms).

7. HIRE A ‘BIG GUN’
With so much information available, competitive intelligence consultancies can help a company define what information will genuinely assist their business objectives. They can provide strategies to help a company collect, monitor and, most importantly, analyse information to deliver the necessary insights/intelligence.

Understanding what your competitors intend to do in your market is not hard.  It may cost you time, effort and budget in the first instance…….or you could compare that cost to potential market share loss, sales lost and customer shrinkage.  Can you afford not to understand your competitors?

Simplify Your Strategy

Understanding Strategy

Strategy is the domain of leaders and getting everyone on board is a critical element for strategic success. However for a strategy to influence action, it must be remembered. To be remembered, it must be understood, To be understood a strategy must be simple. This wonderful video addresses how to simply strategy.

Donald Dull from Harvard  poses three questions to break down complex strategies in actionable steps. I highly recommend this video.

Energy Leadership

What is Energy Leadership?

Energy LeadershipEnergy Leadership™is the process that develops a personally effective style of leadership that positively influences and changes not only yourself, but also those with whom you work and interact, as well as your organization as a whole.

As individuals, we view the world through filters (based on our experiences, values, assumptions, etc.). Those filters will either limit what we see or expand what we see. As a result, they impact how we perceive and what we think about our circumstances. Throughout our whole life, we’ve unconsciously developed filters, which may be holding us back from seeing the full potential of ourselves and what our life and career have to offer.

Leadership: EVERYONE is a leader either by choice or default.

Leadership is how you interact with everyone, including yourself. Leaders are quite visible within small and large businesses. We tend to think of them as business owners, CEO’s and managers at all levels. Traditionally, leadership also extends into politics and other global affairs. However, parents, therapists and health care providers, solopreneurs, sports coaches, consultants, mentors, partners in relationship, teachers, authors, and others who interact with people on a regular basis are all leaders.

If we don’t think of yourself as a leader, then you are limited in your thinking. Leading is the way we help move people into action, including us. The question is not whether or not we are leaders, but how well we lead.

Energy – The Two Streams In Life – Which One Do You Swim In? 

A relentlessly damaging stream is flowing through the world. This stream is not created by water, but by fear. It is the Stream of Unconsciousness.

Its constructive counterpart, the Stream of Consciousness, flows through only a few of the world’s homes and organizations and is fed by creative and positive thinking that produces questions like “What’s right,” “What’s the opportunity here,” and “How can we make this work?” In contrast, the Stream of Unconsciousness is based on only one question: “What’s wrong?” This stream is the one most of us have been trained to see, listen to, drink from, and bathe in since birth.

During any typical workday, most people spend a great deal of time focusing on what’s wrong — with their family, their jobs, their projects, their colleagues, their relationships, and their lives. At work, it’s not surprising that studies show that more than 50 per cent of the people in a nation’s workforce would choose, if they could, to quit their jobs.

What will it take to shift the pressure and negativity that surrounds not only our careers but our personal lives and the state of our communities?  What will help employees to be productive, content, and have a positive view of both the organizations they work for and the people they work with?

Catabolic and Anabolic Energy: The Two Forces That Create Your World 

More than a hundred years ago, Albert Einstein addressed the scientific community, passionately presenting the idea that everything we see, hear, taste, touch, and smell is not matter, but energy.  Everything that “matters” is energy.

On an energetic and cellular level, catabolism usually refers to a breakdown of complex molecules, while anabolism is the opposite.  When you hear about a person’s catabolic or anabolic energy, however, it’s a broader statement about destructive and constructive forces in an entire person, who is made up not only of individual cells but also of anabolic and catabolic thoughts and beliefs.

Anabolic and Catabolic energy are predominant in organizations as well as people.  Many organizations experience catabolic energy by constantly reacting to their circumstances with worry, fear, doubt, anger, and guilt.  And thoughts are indeed contagious.  When even a few people in an organization have negative feelings, it can spread like a virus. “Group think” sets in, and their thoughts become group “fact.”  Once that occurs, the company can implode energetically in a swirl of gossip, negativity, conflict and contempt.

Remember that “group think” begins with “leader think”. At its core, an organization strongly reflects how its leader thinks, feels, and acts.

Anabolic leaders have the ability to motivate and inspire themselves and others to do extraordinary things.  They have the ability to make energetic shifts in all levels of the organization.  The most successful organizations are those that are filled with powerful, positive, anabolic leaders, and that means everyone in the organization, not just the “ones at the top.”  No matter how effective or ineffective you currently are in your role, you can transform yourself and others, as well as your organization, into a thriving, inspired, positive, productive, and successful entity. And, thus begins your journey to become the Ideal Leader.

The Energy Leadership Index (E.L.I.) is a unique assessment that enables participants to get a snapshot of their perceptions, attitudes, behaviours, and overall leadership capabilities. The Energy Leadership Index assessment reveals what specific filters you’ve developed and how those filters are influencing the results you’re achieving.

In a way, it’s a snapshot of you, and how you show up in the world. It shows the effects of stress on your performance and targets areas where you can shift your energy to be more successful.

 Key benefits

  • Increase self perception
  • Identify areas for growth
  • Create a roadmap for change
  • Identify and work through blocks to achieve results
  • Understand how to reduce your stress

 Want to learn more, email me at Babette@52.62.165.177 or give me a call on (02) 9411-3900

Article adopted from © IPEC, www.ipeccoaching.com

But And

Yes… AND?

But AndI came across a wonderful suggestion recently from my friend and colleague Leanne Buttrose. I asked her to write a little note about this.

Thought you would enjoy it as our Monthly Monday Motivation for May.

“How to change your energy and everyone around you by changing one little word!

In the year 2000 I was introduced to a simple and yet incredibly powerful change in my life.  I removed the word “BUT” from my vocabulary. At the time when I learned this, I didn’t realise what this change would mean to me, and literally hundreds of people I have shared this concept with.

The greatest challenge was to not replace it with a “but” in disguise.  We know these words as – however, although, nonetheless –  just to begin with.  You would know many others I’m sure.

“But” simply means; everything I said before this word is null and void. For example, the party was great but the food could have been better.  So was the party great or not?

I found I became very conscious of my sentences and that “but” was my way to buy time and think.  It was what I used instead of a pause or full stop in a conversation or when presenting.

The most profound discovery was in my written words.  I used “but” in emails, documents and papers and it gave them a negative overtone when that was not my intention. I used it in sales pitches and PowerPoint presentations when trying to make a point. I was a “but-aholic”!

So how did I change this?  I replaced the word “but” with “and”. While at first it felt grammatically incorrect, it forced me to stop and think about why I even wanted to say the word.

I found in conversations I started to pause, think and then continue without using the word.  In written communication, it forced me to rethink the whole sentence because when you remove the use of ‘but’ you often have to phrase the entire sentence very differently.

Here’s an example” I’m sorry I didn’t finish the report, but I received your email too late.”

Instead you might say: “I’m sorry I didn’t finish the report. I received your email too late, and I will do my best to finalise it by the end of this week.”

Leaders that I have shared this with now write their messages to their customers and staff coming from the “Yes… and” perspective. They have found it easier to create a more positive energy through their communications.”

WOW! To think removing just three little letters from our vocabulary can hold that much wonderful power.

A great way to make sure you’re following “Yes… and” is to exercise self-awareness.  Self-awareness is the secret weapon for lasting habit change. 

How well do you influence?

To influence is an art that has been lost in the volume of information that people are swamped with today. As we are all aware, information is readily available in overwhelming volumes – through the media, the internet and social media networking. One of the biggest hindrances to success is all about persuading the people you wish to influence. Even the best business proposal will not gain traction if you are unable to influence or persuade your target. The important thing is influence and not just inform. Following are five prongs of persuasion:
  • Words: Express yourself with positive, specific and precise words. Don’t use negative, vague words.
  • Rhetoric: Use rhetoric to get your message across, include powerful messaging and use memorable phrasing.
  • Emotion: Draw on emotions to get your message across. Create feelings such as pleasure, fear, safety, acceptance, and prestige. Decisions are based on emotions.
  • Logic: People need to justify their emotional decisions with reason. Help to interpret the facts, information and ideas that are available. Take a point of view. Lead others to draw  conclusions.
  • Trustworthiness: Demonstrate your integrity. People need to trust your personal values and genuineness before they’ll believe what you say.

Information floods the airwaves, the internet, and our in-boxes. And with that influx, influence has become rare. Yet channelled toward a goal, influence – not simply information – drives action and results.

Obsessing About Your Competitors is a Rookie Move

Competition-Fine-Line-Between-Healthy-Interest-And-Obsession-720x340Startups and small businesses are at greater risk for competitive failure than large businesses. They have no “fat” to cushion a competitive threat or to recover from a serious blunder. Entrepreneurs (especially early-stage ones) need to take the competition seriously.

For starters, I am not YFS (Young, Fabulous & Self-Employed). I am OCS (Old, Cranky & Self-employed).

My entrepreneurial venture has been successful for 26 years now. In the world of small business, this is close to an eternity. And being at this juncture, I hate to see entrepreneurs fail simply because they didn’t pay the right type of attention to competition. If I save one business owner from going under because he or she didn’t ask the right questions, it was worth writing this article.

Many entrepreneurs are bad at competitive intelligence
My business is dedicated to teaching managers and executives about competitive intelligence which is the method by which companies unmask opportunities and threats in the market. Through the years I have trained thousands of business people in the world’s most successful companies. I’ve also seen entrepreneurs cherish being first to market with their brilliant idea or product, but forgetting that first move advantage is not enough. It happened to me too. After almost a decade of glorious loneliness at the top, competition entered my space as well. I actually trained my own competitors!

C’est la vie
.

Do I keep a 30,000 feet overview of what’s happening in my competitive space? You bet. Do I follow those competitors closely, analyze traffic on their websites, compare their products, prices, keywords, AdWords, page load time, linking roots domain, changing text, quality of photos, mobile optimization, or zillion other minutia to mine, and obsess over social network chats about them and us?

Not for one minute
.

The pundits’ advice is often bad advice
Go on LinkedIn, and a horde of consultants advise entrepreneurs to keep a close eye on competitors by watching social media like a hawk, tracking competitors’ online moves, analyzing site traffic patterns, and many other magical tricks.

This is simply bad advice.

If you want to stay in business, you can’t obsess about competitors.

Knowing what to look for, what is crucial, and what to ignore as a waste of time and resources. Web intelligence and web analytics are not competitive intelligence. Not by a mile. It’s a toy that makes it easy to “spy” on competitors, right from your desk, compiling tons of useless data.

If you are serious about your company’s long-term success, you don’t want to bring a toy gun to a real gun fight.

The real competitive questions worth asking
Real competitive intelligence answers the following very hard questions:

  • What do I offer that’s unique and who can truly benefit?
  • What are the activities that are crucial to this uniqueness? Which are the strongest links in delivering the offering? Who or what pose the real competitive threat to you?
  • How do I stop competitors from imitating quickly?
  • What are the strategic risks and opportunities opening up for us as the market changes?

The problem with relying heavily on web analytics and other online intelligence tools is that they replace strategic thinking with hyped up statistics or meaningless noise. This is a sure way to lose sight of the competition.

Internet trolling and social media obsession haven’t delivered one iota of better performance to anyone but the vendors supplying the tools.

For professionals like us who’ve been analyzing competition for decades for the Fortune 500, the hype surrounding web intelligence tools borders on the hilarious; its serious consequences, however, can lead to your company’s early demise.

Best advice ever: never follow competitors
Best advice #1: Never follow competitors.

Competitive intelligence is about competing, not chasing the tail of your competition, direct or indirect. Sometime, the best way to compete is actually to ignore competitors. That’s why Harvard Business School never succumbed to the wave of MOOCs free courses and cheap online education. The bankruptcy of now-defunct for-profit education chain Corinthian College is testament to the value of competitive perspective over foolishly following others.

Best advice # 2: A channel is just a channel.

Never forget that your company website is just a channel. What will make you win is what you offer on it and who needs it. If you don’t fill a real need you’d disappear, together with your fast-loading, button-happy, feature-rich mobile site with all the right SEO-grabbing keywords in place, state of the art technology just like everyone else.

Digital marketing is not strategic insight. Continuous alertness to possible market evolution requires the discipline to say “No!”
 That’s where strategic minds win.

Technology, anyone?

There are dozens of companies today offering free or low-cost subscription web intelligence services (e.g., Alexa, Compete, HitWise, Google Trends, SimilarWeb and Tregia are just a small sample). Any of them a clear winner over the others? The same companies that allow you to “spy” on your competitors’ traffic and analyze their data to death can’t even win their own competitive race.

Technology is not a substitute for strategy
Best advice #3: Tech is no substitute for thinking.

This is the the third lesson I teach my high tech startup audience. If you are ready for hard work, it is worth it.

The realm of competitive intelligence is the realm of “standing out.”
 
 Do not obsess over competitors’ minutia. Obsesses over your strategy and its underlying competitive perspective. It is a magnitude harder than collecting web noise, but it will pay off if you get into the habit of answering strategic questions with real competitive intelligence.

Leave web analytics for the kids who get excited with toy guns. Don’t be young, foolish and self-employed.

This article has been edited and condensed.

Benjamin Gilad is the co-founder and president of the FGH-Academy of Competitive Intelligence, the leading institution that pioneered the training and certification of competitive intelligence professionals (CIP™) world-wide. He is a former
 strategy professor at Rutgers University’s School of Management, and author of three books on competitive intelligence’s role in companies’ success.