3 Tips to Identify a Competitive Threat Before It’s Too Late

It’s easy to fall into the trap of complacency. We all know the story of the tortoise and the hare, which doesn’t end well for the hare, who gets a little too comfortable as the race leader and underestimates the strength of his competitor.

While a simple story, it illustrates peoples’ tendency to get too comfortable with the status quo. A successful marketing strategy should proactively identify, critically evaluate, and prudently respond to evolving market opportunities and risks.

Here are 3 tips to help you identify a competitive threat before it’s too late:

1. Identify early warning signs.

The hare took a quick nap and awakened to find the tortoise only a short distance away from the finish line. Instead of taking this as sign to pick up his pace, the hare decided to have a leisurely breakfast, missing a critical early warning sign of defeat.

Stay close to your customers so you’re not blindsided by changing market dynamics. Existing customers are your strongest allies for gaining insight to product and service weaknesses and to gaps that can increase your vulnerability. Customers can indicate shifting tastes and needs, giving you the opportunity to thoughtfully incorporate feedback into your strategy. Close the loop by letting your customers know in what ways you are proactively upgrading your offerings to address their needs of both today and tomorrow.

A successful marketing strategy should proactively identify, critically evaluate, and prudently respond to evolving market opportunities and risks.”

2. Get to know your current and potential future competitors.

If the hare had kept an eye on the tortoise, he would’ve recognized the tortoise’s potential and could have strategized a way to maintain his lead.

Competitors have a way of sneaking up on you, especially in today’s market. The pressure is on as technology opens new supply channels, pricing becomes more efficient, and companies have greater direct access to customers via social media and other online platforms. Get to know your existing competitors, as well as key players in adjacent markets who represent future competitors. Leverage what you learn from their successes and pitfalls to continue to deliver a truly differentiated, value-added offering. Along with your customers, your peers are another great source of market intelligence.

3. Develop a systematic process for innovation.

Being complacent, the hare didn’t spend the time or effort thinking about ways to improve and outpace his competition. It’s critical to supplement your core business with a healthy dose of on-going experimentation. Maintain a mantle of skepticism that what you’re doing today will not be enough to keep customers tomorrow. What is unique today will be replicated and perhaps perfected by a competitor tomorrow. With this threat, it may be tempting to pursue broad and rapid innovation based on gut reactions, but you should resist that urge.

In situations like these, it is helpful to remember the slow, methodical approach of the tortoise. A disciplined approach to experimentation will help you invest in innovations aligned to your customers’ and prospects’ wants and needs.

Stay close to your customers so you’re not blindsided by changing market dynamics.”

The market moves quickly and so do customer demands. By monitoring changing market dynamics, keeping a watchful eye on current and potential competitors, and understanding your customers’ needs of today and tomorrow, you can make sure your business doesn’t fall into the complacency trap like the hare and is well positioned to anticipate and address competitive threats.

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