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Do you KNOW the Competition?

Posted on Jul 5, 2013 by in Leadership, Mentoring, Sales and Marketing, Startup Funding, Technology | 0 comments

Happy Friday from the home office.  Is it possible that holidays were created for productive work?  Seriously, the quiet focused time can only be matched by Internet access on what I call the tube of work (or airplane).  Today’s mission, complete a competitive analysis of digital (online) marketing platforms ranging from direct competitors to fringy things that could easy become a competitor.  Quick note: if we meet and you say, “I have no competition” the meeting is over even if I don’t actually throw you out.

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Did you know, I’m the founder and CEO of WhatCounts, and we have no competition (start laughing).  We are the only ones that know the power of email marketing and data driven communications.  Every business has competition both direct and indirect.  Customers have options, and most importantly, competition is healthy.  I actually like the fact that everyone is in love with email and digital marketing, it means we are in a good business.  Do we need to differentiate, of course, but it is also vital that entrepreneurs and business leaders have an intimate understanding of the competition.

Here is a framework that might help you:

– Make sure you understand the eco-system you operate in, and the specific terms for that eco-system, such as ESP (email service provider), data management, digital marketing, etc.

– Build a list of competitors – start simple – do a google search – then get more specific – find Forrester, Gartner, and other industry related research documents.

– Build a list of industry executives and thought leaders.  Use LinkedIN, it is perfect for this.  Get names, titles, geographic location.

– Get a free trail or demonstration of everyone’s solution, software, application.  If you are not in technology, fine, if it is a restaurant  go eat in it.

– Build a list of all industry related conferences and meetups.  Attend as many as possible.

It still surprises me how many business leaders and entrepreneurs I know who believe they are better off not fully sharing and participating in the broader eco-system they are operating in.  I can say from personal experience, do your homework, use everyones applications (I can actually demo the products of my top 5 competitors), meet leaders (yes competitors) in your space, and read everything you can get your hands on.  You have competition – trust me – and you are much better off fully understanding the other players than convincing yourself you are a “genius and alone in the market”.

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