YOUR MARKET AND COMPETITORS
In previous blogs we have looked at preparing your strategic plan and business plan in this one lets look at how we define our market and find out who our competitors are.
You know and understand your business but can you define your market, your position in it and who your competitors are, key areas to cover in identifying this include:
- Your market – its size, historical data about its development and key current issues
- Your target customer base- who are they and will they be interested in your business
- Your competitors- who are they, how do they work, what is their market share and what are their strengths and weaknesses
- The future- What changes are foreseen, how will you and your competitors react to these changes
Understanding your customers helps you to utilise the best sales methods for your business, so you need to understand how they reach their purchasing decisions. Explore your existing customers and find out the following:
- What do they think about your products and services
- Why do they need your products and services
- Why do they buy from you and not your competitors
- What do they think of your prices
- What are their expectations from you
- How do they rate your customer service
- How do they think you could develop or refine your products or services
Understanding market trends is important for your business, if you are to maximize the opportunities and stay competitive, and you also need to understand your competitors to stay ahead of them so attempt to identify the following:
- Demand for your product or service – is it growing or shrinking?
- What are the current general economic and market trends?
- How customer requirements and buying patterns could change in the future.
- What new products are in your competitor’s pipeline
- How competitors are changing – what are their plans?
- What do competitors offer and what prices do they charge?
- How do your competitors advertise and promote themselves?
- Is there any forthcoming legislation which could affect your market?
Having identified the information you need to understand your market place, you now need to start to compile it. Start by looking at information that has already been provided like market reports, official statistics and trade publications. This information can be gathered from a variety of sources, such as:
- Your local business reference library
- Your trade association
- The Office for National Statistics website.
- Reports in business magazines and the business pages of national newspapers
- Local authorities and Chambers of Commerce
- UK Trade & Investment
- The internet has a wealth of business data utilise the search engines.
- Commercial publishers of market reports include KeyNote, Euromonitor, Mintel, Datamonitor, The Economist Intelligence Unit and Market & Business Development.
The information achieved from all of the above will enable you to define your market place and competitors in your business plan.
I hope that this information has been useful, but if you require assistance in analysing your market and competitors please contact us.