How to define your competitive landscape

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Whether you’re a brand-new business or running your tenth, sooner or later you will find yourself having to answer the age-old question: Who are we and what do we stand for? One effective path to gaining clarity on these questions is defining your competitive landscape. This is not as easy as it sounds and can be one of the most important steps in getting your business, branding, and marketing right. Start thinking about who your primary competitors are and what makes them special. For example, if you are in the health and wellness industry and have a few competitors with engaged community networks then that might be enough to give you an unfair advantage over others that only have casual community networks which are less active. In this article we’ll cover some details on how to define your competitive landscape and some concepts to keep in mind along the way.

What does competitive landscape mean?

The term “competitive landscape” can be used to describe a company’s position in the market. In other words, how does your company stack up against your competitors? Many businesses consider their overall competitive landscape and how it affects the value of their brand. By defining your competitive landscape you are taking a crucial step in setting a clear brand identity for your business. Sometimes this can mean creating an entirely new product or service to differentiate from competitors, but other times it can mean just being really good at what you offer and providing top tier customer service. In any case, defining your competitive landscape is worth the time and effort as it will play a role in shaping your overall business and brand strategies.

How to define your competitive landscape

Every company has a competitive landscape which provides signals on where gaps exist in the market and which areas are saturated. To define where you fit in to the overall landscape it’s important to know what your competition is busy doing and focusing on and where you stand in the market in relation to them. You can determine this position by collecting information about your competitors. One way to collect information about competitors is by looking at their website analytics to understand what they are already being sought out for. Another is to seek out feedback from existing consumers of your competitors via surveys and interviews, among other tactics. Then you can use this data to compare them with one another and see how they stack up against your business and brand. The goal here is to identify patterns and then opportunities that exist within those patterns. In some rare cases you may find that you don’t have any competitors or direct ones at least, in this instance it may prove beneficial to practice some creative thinking and foresight. Consider who you would want them to be if they were existent now or in the future. This will help you make some tough decisions since it will allow you to prioritize and position your own businesses and brand against competing ones that may not even exist yet. For example, if you're a wellness tech company and decide not to enter the technology market, then who would be most likely your competitor? Maybe a wellness supply and goods chain? Or maybe an overseas wellness research institution? These questions are important because it will help set the tone for how successful you think this venture will be and whether there is room for new players in this niche.

Why your competitive landscape matters

Once you have identified your competition, you will be able to plan your strategic efforts around business, brand, and marketing more effectively and use that information to set yourself apart from these competitors. One thing I’d urge you to do here is think outside the box when it comes to your brand and marketing strategies as it is extremely easy for companies to fall victim to ”mimic syndrome” which will only make it harder to stand out and possibly even diminish your competitive advantage. If you are the only wellness tech company in a small town, for example, then being known as the only wellness tech company is probably not going to give you an unfair advantage. However, if you can find a way to make yourself stand out from other companies with initiatives like a wellness tech academy or workshops for your target demographic for B2C or other businesses for B2B then it might be easier to drive traffic back to your business, capture a larger audience, and convert those into lasting customers. The key here is that knowing your competitive landscape matters when it comes to setting yourself apart and building in a competitive advantage.

Final thoughts

Defining your competitive landscape is a crucial step in getting your business, branding, and marketing right. So, keep these tips in mind when you’re thinking about what makes you different from your competitors. What are the benefits of choosing your business and brand over others? What are some trade-offs associated with choosing you over others? Question as much about your business and the landscape you fall into, this can keep you mindful of where you are as you evolve and serve as a precursor for innovation and growth for your business and brand.

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