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Who Are Your Actual Competitors?

I have a former client who wanted to create a powerful, specialized, searchable directory of service providers in a specific industry by job role or function. This online directory would be supported by advertising revenue, and the ads would be displayed in order of who was willing to pay the most to appear first for a specific search. He fell off his chair when I told him his business model put him in direct competition with Google and Yelp. We changed his business model a bit so his company offered a different value proposition, and that was no longer an issue. This story raises an interesting point about marketing in the 21st century: You need to carefully identify your competitors.

I recently had a discussion about how frequently companies overlook their real competitors with my colleague Bruce Porter of SWAT Marketing Solutions. Bruce’s company provides a full range of branding, marketing, website development and digital marketing services. Bruce pointed out that, due to the pandemic, many people have become familiar with virtual meetings and virtual selling, which has created new opportunities for companies to sell their products and services online and, in many instances, remove geographic boundaries increasing competition.

He said: “Your competitor can now be 3,000 miles away without you ever knowing. The least expensive way to find your competitors is to Google your products and services. We offer a digital analysis that includes a competitive evaluation.” If you would like a complimentary digital analysis, go to: SWAT Marketing Solutions’ website. They do great work!

Bruce is spot on. Identifying your real competitors is crucial to your success. If you don’t find them, your prospects will. The Internet has brought us all closer together, regardless of where you are located. That means that your competitors are not necessarily in the same region, or even the same country.

There are many types of competitors, and you really need to consider the impact of each of these on your business. Do you know who your true competitors are in each of these categories?

  • Direct Competitors – these are vying for the same customers you are
  • Indirect Competitors – these are in the same industry but sell different products or solutions
  • Potential Competitors – these are not currently selling in your market but they sell the exact same products or services and could enter your market at any time
  • Future Competitors – these are similar to Potential Competitors, but they are positioned to enter your market and become Direct Competitors. In some cases, they already may be in the process of doing just that
  • Replacement Competitors – provide alternative solutions for the same pain points, in the same market as you

In the end, you want to be applying strategies to your marketing that will keep you ahead of your competitors, but you can’t do that if you are not mindful of who they really are. Start with a competitive analysis of your online presence so you are looking at the right competitors.

Here is some additional guidance for creating a winning marketing strategy for your business.