There’s few things more effective than an analogy to clarify a point. On previous blogs, we used a sailing analogy to demonstrate the aspects of an innovation strategy: Your purpose is your rudder, your strategy is your charted course, and your marketplace is everything in the ocean.

Tides, temperature, icebergs, sandbars and the weather are things that impact your business that you can’t control such as trends, technology, market fluctuations and global events. All the other vessels in the water, whether they are going your way or not, are your competitors.

While you don’t want to follow them (you have our own course), you want to make sure you know exactly where they are, where they are going, if they are getting too close, and identify any gaps you can sail right through.

WHAT CAN YOU LEARN FROM YOUR COMPETITORS?

THEIR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES

  • What can you improve?

  • What areas of weakness can you exploit?

  • Are they surpassing your organisation in any area?

  • How does your user experience stack up against theirs?

  • What can you tweak or change to improve your offering?

FIND YOUR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

  • What makes your organisation unique?

  • What do you currently do or what could you do that no one else does?

  • What are you differentiators? What separates you from the pack?

  • Where does your product or service stand in the marketplace?

WHO ARE YOUR COMPETITORS?

  • Who are your direct competitors? Organisations that do what you do, share your customers (or you want their customers or offer the same product and services.

  • Who are your indirect competitors? Organisations that offer something similar to you. It might not be their primary product or service but the second or third. They do however compete for the same budget.

IDENTIFY MARKET GAPS

  • What target market are your competitors missing?

  • What potential collaborations have they missed?

  • What are users saying they want that no one is delivering?

Keeping a close eye on your competitors allows you to innovate and be agile, but never rest on this information. Competition and disruption can happen any time and can come from anywhere. Always keep an eye on your competitor as well as the market, even if you’re miles ahead you must be ready to innovate, move with the tide or change course when needed.

Need help charting your course? Take a look at Innovation Strategy: The One Day Workshop.

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