Competitive Anaslysis – Market Research

Dear M & M:

Someone told me I should do a competitive analysis to see what my competition is doing, any thought on what I should compare?

-Julie

Dear Julie:

Every business is different, even similar businesses and business owners would disagree on what might be considered important to them.The idea is to look at what others are doing and see if you can take advantage of something they are not doing. Maybe your competitors are closing at 6:00pm if you stay open until 7:00pm you might be able to capture customers looking to do business during that time your competitor is closed.  Here are some of the areas I would consider checking to see what your competition is doing. Price, selection, service(before-during-and after the sale), location, sales methods, credit policies, return policies, advertising, expertise, parking, customer service, dress codes, cleanliness, channels of distribution, products offered, and quality are some of the areas one might consider. Make sure you check out their online presence. What are they doing with social media? Have they developed any other marketing tools or strategies?  The primary benefits of any competitive analysis are a better understanding of what your competitors are doing, what they are offering to customers, and how to maintain your competitive advantage.

-M&M

Dear M & M:

What are some important areas I should consider when doing market research for my company?

-Bob

Dear Bob: 

Marketing research can help you learn a lot about your industry and business. One of the most important things one should identify is, how many customers you potentially have, and how many are likely to become buyers. U.S. Census has a lot of information on the total number of potential customers are living within a certain geographic area. Dr. Robert Carreira at the Center for Economic Research at Cochise College has some very helpful information in this area linked to Cochise College’s web site http://www.cochise.edu/CommunityResources/CenterforEconomicResearch/tabid/367/Default.aspx .

Here are five steps to do to make this information more meaningful for you.

1). Determine the number of potential customers you might have in your geographic selling area.

2). Determine the number that will likely purchase from you. Consider your competition and realize that some of your potential customers will buy out of your selling area and will not buy from either you or your competitors.

3). Determine your average customer sales per year.  Trade associations, industry resources, or your library might be a great source to get this information.

4). Determine your annual sales volume. You know the number of customers and the average amount they spend from the previous questions, multiply these two numbers together to calculate your expected annual sales volume.

5). Evaluate your annual sales volume figure. Does the number you generated make sense? Be conservative, make sure the assumptions you made on how many potential customers will buy from you and that the industry averages on how much a typical customer spends per year on your products and services make sense?

-M&M

 To ask your questions: Call the Small Business Development Center(SBDC) at Cochise College (520)-515-5478 or email schmittm@cochise.edu or contact the Sierra Vista Economic Development Foundation(EDF) at 520-458-6948 or email  hollism@svedf.org .

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