Secrets of Competitive Market Research
(NEW! eBook with handy worksheets - see link below.)
Pray your competition doesnt learn these marketing research secrets
at business may not be your idea of fun, but
A competitor is someone whos getting your prospect to
by his stuff and lowering your profits. Youve
got to know who your competitor is and how he works.
The goal of market research is to obtain information that will
- Get your prospect to contact you first, and
- Buy your stuff instead of your competitors stuff
Your competitor is likely doing research to create counter arguments
against you - to get his prospects to buy his stuff instead of yours,
Your prospects may suffer constraints that make it difficult to
acquire your stuff, such as:
- Limited resources,
- Prior relationship with your competitor,
- Heard more about your competitor,
- Heard something negative about you (inaccurate of course).
Here are two things that will help:
- Collect factual information about your competition, and,
- Carefully plan how you will present this competitive information.
Collecting Marketing Features and Facts
Here are some hints about how to acquire the competitive information
you need. You must discover 5 key kinds of competitive information:
- What are your competitors features?
- What are those feature's benefits?
- What is the best case your competitor makes - what does he
say about his strong points AND his weak points?
- Where is your competitor making his case - and how is
he making the connection?
- Where is your competitor not making his case?
You must demonstrate to your prospect that your stuff is better
by comparing your stuff to your competitors stuff - tacitly
This means you must create a complete list of your competitors
features. Ditto for your stuff, feature by feature. For now dont
worry about the benefits, just concentrate on getting the facts
down on paper, which must be accurate. Double-check, OK?
This means you must buy you competitors stuff or convince
him to give you his information for free. (And good luck with that! :)
Or, you or a friend can pose as a prospective buyer to get the
information you need. (That is probably how he got your information.)
Act like a shopper, not a researcher. Tell your competitor that
youre a careful shopper, and you must have specific information
before making a decision.
Start with a complete list of features of your stuff. This will
give you a basis for collecting your competitors information. Then
get your competitors advertising:
- Information kits
- Direct mail letters
- Email advertising
- Website information
- Annual reports
- Publicity articles
- Press releases
You or a friend should get on their mail list(s) to get updates
as they come out.
You can also call industry experts or people mentioned in articles
to probe for more information. By now youre making a chart, right?
Youre listing all your features and theirs, right? Good!
Buyers Buy Benefits - Not Features
You must find out why people are buying your competitors stuff.
And it aint features - its benefits! But, most marketers
dont emphasize benefits in their propaganda (aka marketing materials).
They typically list features and assume that prospects will translate
those features into benefits themselves, which buyers must do anyway before
Buying decisions are made emotionally, not logically. The mind
uses logic after the fact to justify the emotional decision based on perceived
So, what you must do is:
- List all your competitors features.
- Transform those features into benefits (be honest now :-)
by imagining that youre buying your competitors stuff.
OK. Now youve got a chart for your competitor; it lists
all his features and corresponding benefits and sales points.
"WAIT! Mike, why go to all this work?" Because
you cant possibly make your strongest arguments for your stuff unless
you know your competitors strongest arguments!
By now, you probably know more about your competitors than they
know about themselves. Congratulations!
Now, create a similar chart for your stuff, listing all your features
and corresponding benefits and sales points. Then youll know more
about your stuff than you knew before. Congratulations!
You have MORE Features and Benefits, right?
Of course! Great! Now you know what your prospect wont
get unless s/he buys your stuff. Be sure to tell your prospect about
this - with benefits. For example, if you offer a guarantee:
"You get up to 90 days to try my stuff. If youre
not satisfied for any reason, bring it back for a full refund. You risk
nothing. Brand X doesn't give you a guarantee. When you buy Brand X, youre
stuck with it!"
In making your case, you must show that your competitors
strong points are not that compelling - and that his weak points
give ample reasons for not buying his stuff.
Your competitor is likely not doing what youre doing.
Many marketers simply write marketing materials with just facts and
features - but, not selling points. These materials dont
compel an immediate response because they dont get your prospects
juices flowing (aka DESIRE).
Where does Your Competitor Make his Case?
and how does s/he attempt to do it? Where do they place
their marketing and advertising information? Focus on how your competitor
connects with the market.
- Publicity and press releases?
- Direct mail advertising?
- Billboard advertising?
- Email advertising
- Website advertising?
- Internet advertising?
- Advertising agency?
- Online advertising?
- TV advertising?
- All of the above?
Find out! Discover what is working and what isnt.
When you study how your competitor connects with the market, you will
discover where you should connect. And where you shouldnt.
Again, make a chart of all the different methods with specific
data including, timing, costs, messages, positioning, etc. Who are trying
to reach? What are they trying to do (make a sale, build a prospect list,
break even or profit, etc.)? Who are they selling to (demographics)? Why
are they buying (psychographics)?
Be attentive to how long your competitor uses a given medium.
Long runs likely means its profitable.
Gather information regularly and study it. This will help you
make sensible choices. But, examine all your media alternatives first,
then make your choice(s) at one time. This will yield the most intelligent
After you collect and chart the information, ask yourself these questions:
- Who is my competitor connecting with?
- Does my competitor profit from these connections?
- Does my competitor have a single product or a line of products?
- Does his advertising medium make sense for you?
- If the medium makes sense, can I outmaneuver my competitor with a
bold, client-centered act NOW message?
Dont Get Discouraged by Your Competitors!
Let your competitors spend their money, make the mistakes,
and pave the way for you! Then do what works for them while outsmarting
them with client-centered, benefits-oriented marketing instead of
the typical unsupported Self-Aggrandizing Claim-Based Marketing.
- Put yourself on to relevant mailing lists.
- Subscribe to periodicals that carry your competitors ads.
- Join relevant trade organizations.
- Make presentation and talks to relevant groups.
Also, you can find out which government agencies regulate your
competitors business and find out what kinds of information they
Your prospect likely has limited money. When its gone, its
gone. Its a zero-sum game. When you get more, someone else gets
less - and conversely.
- Discover who your competitors are.
- Monitor what theyre doing. Often.
- Dig out their strongest case.
- Dig out their weakest case, too.
- Outmaneuver their strengths and emphasize their weaknesses.
- Find cost-effective media where you can outmaneuver your competition
or have the show to yourself.
Best of all, think of your competitor as part of your organization
- collecting crucial information for you and saving your time and money!
Want more information? Click for FREE download --> "Secrets of Competitive Market Research"
Exercise for the Serious Organization Builder.
Download an updated (FREE) version of the Business
Builder Outline (PDF file).
"Hi Mike ... thanks for your Business Builder outline
... good overview of what to plan for! I am about to launch my business
... and want to make it 'franchisable'... a 'timely' download ... Thanks
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