The coaching staff of every football team starts preparing for the next game by looking at game-films of their next opponent.
- Does their fullback prefer to turn right or left?
- Is their kicker accurate from 50 yards?
- Is their star blocker still injured?
Over and over they review the film, looking for strengths they will need, strategies to defend against, and weaknesses they can exploit. In marketing terms, they prepare both a “Competitive Analysis” and an “Action Plan” which they call a “Game Plan.”
Of course, this competitive analysis isn’t limited to football; it exists in all sports at just about every level, political campaigns, and in just about every other competitive situation including in every type of business.
Your business, like the football team, competes against an opponent, and today, with the almost universal ability of your customers and prospects to search the internet, you are competing against businesses world-wide. To succeed, you must perform the same type of analysis; develop the same type of plan:
- If they can deliver in three weeks, can you deliver in two?
- If they offer a 90-day warranty, can you offer one for six months?
- If their price includes assembly, can yours include assembly and delivery?
- If their price is $X, can you offer a lower price or savings of some kind?
- If they have a well-trained, friendly and knowledgeable staff, can your staff be better?
Gaining a competitive edge requires knowing what the competition offers, and that requires a little sleuthing. Read their advertising to see what they are offering, look at their website and measure their site’s ease of navigation, become a customer and see how you are treated.
Start exploiting your strengths and pound home your messages of superiorities. Start identifying your weaknesses and institute strategies of turning weaknesses into strengths (lemonade from lemons?). Start working to upgrade your staff’s friendliness, knowledge, and helpfulness. Then start monitoring the effectiveness of your efforts to become more competitive and tweak those that are working and modify those that still are not having the desired effect. That’s what the football team does in the locker room at halftime to turn momentum onto their side, and you can also do it.
If you use a “Competitive Analysis” you can develop a winning “Game Plan” just like the Pros in the NFL, but realize that the companies you compete against are doing the same thing. So, add the option of flexibility into your Plan.