Competitive research to kick start your startup

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DuedilIt’s no revelation to say that the basis of many a fruitful business venture is research. Gathering intelligence on the strengths and weaknesses of the competition can enable you to aim your own company in the right direction, target the right consumer groups and pick up where your rivals fall down. Understanding how other businesses fit into the marketplace is a significant step towards understanding how yours can, too.

Working from the inside out is a good place to begin. Of course, if you’re launching a start-up, this may be entirely theoretical at this stage but think about what your plans are for things like product launches, marketing strategies and targeting customers. Only when you have this information on your own methods can you begin to directly compare competitors.

It’s important to then turn your gaze outwards and examine what these companies are doing well and where they are failing. By checking company accounts, searching websites, following RSS feeds, tracking prices and sales successes, you can fully appreciate what thrives – and what doesn’t – in the market you’re about to enter. Keeping an eye on customers’ buying habits with rivals can highlight potential custom for you. Conducting surveys and asking them yourself is even better.

But this is where the action comes in. It’s all very well gathering statistics on a company’s USP, pitch and brand strategy or investigating opinions of them on social media. However, it’s essential to utilise this knowledge to your advantage. While no business can imitate another’s successful advertising campaign, you can note down what made it a success in the first place.

Conversely, if you have identified additional services that a competitor has not thought of, implement them in your own company.

From a discontinued product line to a craze that flies off the shelves, being aware of how your competition is doing is key to finding your own feet in business. Effective competitive research is certainly about collating and analysing data, but it’s also about turning this analysis into profit for your company. It’s also a strategy which should be redeployed systematically, every quarter if you can. In terms of your own affairs and those of your rivals, this will ensure that you always keep one step ahead.

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