Usually, small and medium enterpriss only know a few of their competitors and, almost always, the only thing they concentrate on is the product. The product is a very important aspect but it should not be the only one that is studied. There are other useful bits of information that can be obtained by studying our competitors; especially when a company is trying to enter into new markets abroad.
There are at least 3 aspects of our competitors that should be investigated:
- Understanding which markets my competitors are already selling in and which they are considering
- Identifying who their agents, distributors or direct customers are in the various markets
- Understanding which business strategies they are using in the various markets. And here the product is, in fact, the main focal point, but there are also many other related details that are tied, for example, to communication.
All these aspects can be investigated on the web, which is a huge source of information. It’s not always easy to do this research; there’s a risk of drowning in the sea of data that the internet offers you. So a few tricks and a lot of patience is needed.
Obviously the first thing to do is to draw up a list of competitors. In addition to the ones we know, I suggest scrolling through the list of exhibitors at the major trade fairs. Let’s not forget the head of the class! There is always something to learn.
Then, don’t only study competitors but also the companies that produce products complementary to ours. They can give us useful information, too, especially with regards to point two. In fact, if I find the agents or distributors of a product complementary to mine, I often find contacts that could also be interested in my product as well.
Finally, I take an in-depth look at these themes and tricks to find out about my competitors in my book, Exporting in 7 Steps