Most management teams understand the value of a competitive analysis yet may not be insisting on a thorough and complete effort.
A competitive analysis usually includes these basic elements:
- Industry Rank
- Year Founded
- About Us
- Products and Services
- Management Team
- Number of Employees
- Estimated Number of Clients
- Estimated Market Share
A more thorough competitive analysis may include items like:
- SWOT Analysis of both Your Company and Your Competitors
- Comprehensive information of their chronology and history along with predictions on their future strategy
- Management summaries & additional information from annual reports
- Financial reports from annual reports and other public sources
- News articles - study them for insights about future plans
- Consider making calls to your competitors requesting information about products and services
- Classify, analyze, segregate, assimilate, graph, chart, look at information from all angles
- Seek multiple information sources and cross check all data with references clearly documented
Segmentation is also a critical aspect of a thorough competitive analysis.
It is usually a good idea to prioritize your research by level of threat. Who is in the best position to undermine your current position in your best market space? Also look for opportunities. What areas could you exploit most quickly where others are not well established.
This is also a good time to a bit paranoid. Think of what you would do to displace yourself and what others may be considering.
In addition to the obvious competitors it is also a very good idea to look at who may be entering your markets.
Are there start ups that threaten your position or more established companies who are about to move into your space?
What new technologies threaten your position?
Completing a thorough and complete competitive analysis will probably take much longer than originally anticipated. Done correctly, it can take several months and it also needs to be an ongoing process.
This is not one of those times where you want to rush the process just to get some information into a report. It is much better to take the necessary time and do it right! Outside help with objective insights is nearly always a good idea.