(Second in a series of posts on doing competitive research)
The Internet has made competitive research easier than ever, but it can also easily lead you on unproductive side trips. To keep from getting bogged down in those interesting, but not so essential tangents, it is useful to establish an outline or framework for your research that will help keep you focused and on track for each competitor and provide consistency that will allow comparisons of you and your competitors.
While there are many outlines out there, and many will work, this is one Kapstone suggests. It is concise yet thorough and allows you to create a consistent catalog for each of your competitors that will make the competitive analysis, which comes later, efficient and insightful.
Start by opening an Excel worksheet and creating the following columns outlining your competitors:
- Name (and location if relevant)
- URL (make this a hotlink, so you can quickly go to their website)
- About (The brief sentence or two from their About page that answers the question "Who is this company? And what is their mission statement if they have one")
- List their products/services offered and highlight those that directly compete with yours
- Pricing, if available, note the range of prices. Highlight the price of direct compete devices
- Strengths, list their products especially those that are most competitive to yours
- Weaknesses, list product line gaps, or design and manufacturing choices that make their products inferior to yours
- Key brand differentiators. What are the product/service offerings, messaging, etc., that set the competitor apart from yours and other competitors?
To gather this “who” information about your competitors there are several resources that provide objective information. These include: The Library of Congress’ Business Reference Services, Dun & Bradstreet, and Gale Business Solutions.
Just as important are online resources including news and magazine sources. Examples include Orthopedic Design and Technology, and Becker’s Spine Review, and Orthopedics This Week. Competitor advertising and brochures, including trade show exhibits, can provide a wealth of information. Of course, the competitor’s own website may also provide much of the information including mission statements, objectives, sales messaging and annual reports if publically held, press releases, news, and so on.
As you work through the competitive assessment, you may find other aspects of your competition useful to track, but this is a good starting point.
Once you have this basic information you can then do the analysis that really is the key to understanding your competitors. This analysis involves identifying your competitor’s objectives, assumptions, strategies and capabilities.
Kapstone Medical’s knowledge and depth of experience can provide you with invaluable resources and insights into competitive research. We partner with you to develop the business model and strategy that will make you competitive and successful.
(Next up: Doing the competitor analysis)