•Where are competitors better than us?
•Where are we falling behind market changes?
•Where have we created a bad impression?
•When are customers choosing not to buy from us?

I had a chance to give a couple of presentations this week on competitive analysis, using a straightforward technique known as SWOT analysis.

This is important for anyone in business who needs to build a larger customer base through taking decisive action and delivering clear messages.  That’s all of us, right?

Here’s the top level view:

Strengths

  • What do we do better than the competition?
  • What is hard for others to duplicate?
  • Where have we established a great reputation?
  • Why do people prefer and refer us?

Weaknesses

  • Where are competitors better than us?
  • Where are we falling behind market changes?
  • Where have we created a bad impression?
  • When are customers choosing not to buy from us?

Opportunities

  • Where do we have an advantage?
  • Where can we expand on current success?
  • Where are we ahead?
  • Where have competitors left an open door, even temporarily?
  • How has the changing market created an opportunity to get ahead?

Threats

  • What’s happening that will cause us to lose ground?
  • What new competitors are arising?
  • What’s causing customers to go elsewhere?
  • What changes are reducing our target market?
  • What causes customers to not purchase at all?

When you work through these questions, it helps you to realize your true competitive situation.  You’ll need to talk to your customers and prospects to discover their point of view, and perhaps read up on industry trends.

Most important, realize:  The competition is not just the guy down the block who delivers something similar to you.  It includes ANYBODY who can address the customer’s need in any way.  It includes customers not being moved to buy from anybody at all, and deciding to suffer with or ignore their need.

How do you stack up against THAT?

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