Understanding your audience is the first step toward owning your market, but it’s not the only one. You also need to have a clear grasp of your competition.
You might wonder why this is so important. We’ll get to that, but let’s first dispel a common myth: You should not study your competition to copy them. That is the last thing you should want to do. Why, you ask? Think of it this way: It’s hard to convince people to listen to you if you sound just like every other person clamoring for their attention — even if you’re saying all the right things.
The secret, it turns out, is to say something entirely different.
When surveying the competitive landscape, you should consider what your audience wants, what options they already have and where they are not being served. It is in this “white space,” where competition is thin, that you can establish a winning brand position.
How do you go about identifying these white spaces, though? It helps to think visually. Consider a two-dimensional scatter chart. The x and y axes define the “dimensions” of competition. These could be many things — price, durability, etc. — depending on your specific market.
The individual points, meanwhile, represent the positioning of individual brands within this matrix. By glancing at this chart, you could get a pretty good sense of where opportunities exist.
We’re going to create just such a chart, but first, we need to define the “dimensions” of competition in your market. Try to come up with at least two qualities you think are important to your audience and add them below.
📝 Exercise 1
There are no rows in this table
Now that you’ve defined your competitive dimensions, it’s time to decide who your competitors are and how they measure up.
You should be as specific as possible when identifying competing brands, limiting your “frame” to only the closest substitutes. For now, try to identify five to 10 direct competitors. Brainstorm ideas below. Then vote on your favorites as a team and score the selected competitors along the dimensions identified during the last exercise.