Your competition is changing. It’s time to get your bearings.

How many times have you had a “million-dollar idea”—a business proposition that seems so good, you’re amazed that no one’s gotten rich off it yet.

You can probably think of a few times this has happened to you, right?

Now, how many times have you Googled to see if your million-dollar idea already exists? Have you ever done the research to find out? If you have, how many times have you discovered that someone else has turned your concept into a reality? How many times has their idea not only fully actualized your concept, but even improved on it? Has it been the success you thought it would be?

If you’ve ever vetted your million-dollar question, you already understand the underlying purpose of a Competitive Landscape Analysis (CLA). And if you haven’t, I bet you can already see how important it can be for your business.

In marketing and branding, we conduct CLAs to look at a variety of factors that might influence your brand development, messaging, and marketing strategy, including the design and usability of your website, general style elements within your industry, and how competitors are using both inbound and outbound marketing techniques.

As a tool to keep track of competitor tactics, CLAs are invaluable. Here are five reasons you should consider conducting one for your own business.

1. It helps you become more self-aware as a brand.

I once worked with a client who was so certain of his million-dollar idea that he manufactured a thousand units of his product before stopping to see how much similar products were retailing for on the market. His product, which he intended to sell for over $300, had a unique feature that none of his competition had.

The problem was that most of his competitors could sell similar products for $15. His unique feature probably provided value to a very niche market—but even for those people, that feature wasn’t worth several hundred dollars over the competition.

Self-awareness as a business is crucial for success. You need to be able to understand your competition before you can be confident in the value you bring to your customers. The risks of entering the market without that awareness are monumental.

2. It identifies areas of weakness and opportunity in the market.

CLAs are most important during times of change and transition. Most often, we conduct CLAs for customers who are hungry for an edge. Maybe they’re in the middle of a slow point, and they need a strategic analysis to show them where they can improve. Or maybe they’re at the peak of a business boom, and they want to take advantage of this opportunity to keep momentum rolling forward.

By methodically analyzing the websites and marketing strategies of your competition, you can shore up your own weaknesses and identify strategic openings for your own business.

3. It shows you where you can differentiate yourself from the pack…

To go back to the previous analogy about the “million-dollar idea” that’s already been done before, many of us can be unware or ways in which, in striving for originality, we’re actually following the pack.

This should surprise us less than it does. After all, if you take any group of individuals within an industry, they are likely to share many things in common, from similar educational backgrounds to cultural reference points. These filter into creative work—especially outward-facing creative that is intended to attract customers with a similar set of reference points.

It’s how every environmental group ends up with green in their brand colors, and every doctor’s office is the same shade of Microsoft blue. But when you take the time to look at these subconscious trends, you can make deliberate decisions about how to set yourself apart from the group.

4. …while also identifying small ways to signal who you are within your industry.

That said, being part of an industry that shares similar associations can also work in your favor. In branding, you want to choose colors, font styles, and logo designs that still make it look as though you belong in your peer group.

If you’re an environmental group, you still probably want to use green in your brand colors—but maybe as a secondary color, or maybe by using a different shade with some bold contrasts. If you’re in the technology industry, you don’t want to be using a scroll font in your site design, but you probably also want to move away from Arial.

The goal isn’t to look entirely different from your competition—just like a better version of them.

5. It prevents you from being surprised by your competition.

When things are going well, it’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of security. So long as business is good, there’s no need to look at what others are doing, right? This complaisance has led many a business into trouble.

A competitor emerges doing something new and innovative, and after a few years they’ve undercut a core part of the business’s customer base. Now, instead of responding to a shifting market from a position of strength, they’re scrambling to regain the foothold they once had.

Conducting CLAs periodically can save your business from being caught flat-footed. By identifying top competition early, your business can counter their ideas with innovations of your own—or create a marketing campaign to counter claims put forward by the competition.

If you don’t have an eye on the competition, you’re running blind.

A Competitive Landscape Analysis gives businesses a comprehensive view of their industry terrain. Without taking a moment to look around at what everyone else is doing, you’re likely to miss a key opportunity, or be left behind as your competitors outpace you in their response to market demands.

We can conduct a CLA for your business to analyze how you compare to your competition on a number of fronts, from website design to branding to marketing strategy. Contact us today to get started.

Published 02/21/20 by Laura Lynch