Profiling your Competitors

Competitor profiling and analysis is essential research for both start-up and established businesses. By knowing who your competitors are and what they offer can help you to design and create activity programmes and services that stand out in the market. Profiling competitors is also vital for any future marketing strategies. You will be able to take advantage of your competitor’s weaknesses and improve your own business’ performance.

Follow our guide to learn about discovering who your competitors are, what you need to know about them, how to communicate with them and finally how to use the research to improve your business.

Who are your competitors?

No matter what type of business you have you will face competition. Even the most successful businesses, such as Nike, have fierce competition and is kept on its toes by companies like Adidas and Reebok. This is the same for activity businesses, just in a more locally focused way.

Competition can come from anywhere. Similar businesses to yours are the obvious threat, but with various different types of both online and offline activity providers, you’ll need to be aware of both direct and indirect threats.

Places and clues to help you find your competitors:

  • Quick Google search for similar activity programmes like yours
  • Ask friends and family if they are aware of any similar services and businesses
  • Social media
  • Advertisements
  • Check directories such as ClubHub UK
  • Press reports
  • Trade fairs
  • Questionnaires
  • Information from customers
  • Posters, flyers and marketing literature

Always be on the lookout for new competitors, new businesses and activity providers enter the market every day.

What you need to know about your competitors

Review and analyse the way your competitors run their business. Focus on elements such as:

  • The programmes, products and services they sell
  • How they market their products or services
  • Their pricing
  • How they run their activity services
  • Their branding and design approach
  • Their customer service style
  • How they enhance customer loyalty
  • Are they innovative?
  • Staff numbers and the type of staff they hire
  • Are they online? (this includes any social media accounts and websites)
  • Do they have a strong online presence?
  • Their media activities, do they advertise in magazines or other print?
  • Who owns the business? What kind of person are they?

The best way to learn more about each of your competitors is to go on their website. Access every single page from the products to the about page. Is their website better than yours?  Check out their social media accounts if they have any. How do they communicate with their customers? Is it similar to how you communicate or is it friendlier? Finally, you could contact them by phone or email to get a sense of their customer service style and enquire about any information you are interested in.

The next step you take should be to learn about your competitor’s customers. This will make you aware of the kind of customers you will also be targeting for your own business. Find out:

  • Who they are
  • Which products and services they are purchasing from your competitors
  • What do their customers see as their business’ strengths and weaknesses?
  • How many longstanding and loyal customers do they have?
  • Have your competitors had an influx of customers recently? Evaluate what could have brought them new customers and increased sales.

Familiarise yourself with your competitor’s business strategies:

  • What types of customers are they targeting?
  • What marketing techniques are they using to increase sales?
  • Are they developing any new products?
  • What financial resources do they have?

Now that you have acquired all this information you can use it to compare and evaluate your own business strategy. If there any weaknesses in your strategy change them immediately. You should be constantly evaluating it and changing it to match the demands of the market and its consumers.

Communicate with your competitors

An easy way to learn more about your competitors is by simply talking to them:

  • Download or request marketing literature. You can analyse their branding and marketing style as well as their language and communication style.
  • Find out how much they charge for their services. Are they better than your pricing and offers?
  • Phone and face-to-face contact will give you an idea of their customer service style and any first impressions.
  • You may come across competitors in trade fairs and business events. Try talking to them to get a better idea of their business, you may find you share the same problems. You might even decide to collaborate in the future to grow a new market and product.

Always remember to compete fairly. Do not partake in any illegal anti-competitive activities, these include agreeing not to compete, fixing prices and discussing pricing plans with competitors.

Use the research to improve your business

Evaluate all the information you have found about your competitors. It should reveal any gaps in the market you could take advantage of by exploiting.

You may find it effective to draw up a list of everything you have found out about your competitors. Try splitting the information up into three categories:

  • What can you learn from them and what can you do better?
  • What are they doing worse than you?
  • What are they doing the same or better than you?

If you know your competitors are doing something better than you make some immediate changes. This can include:

  • Updating and designing new products
  • Reassessing your prices
  • Improving customer service
  • Updating your marketing strategy
  • Redesigning or updating your website
  • Updating your brand
  • Changing supplier

Remember that just because they may be doing something better than you does not give you the excuse to copy them. Understand why their products, services or marketing are better and use your own innovation to come up with new and effective ideas.

Do not become complacent. Constantly evaluate and re-evaluate your businesses strengths and weaknesses. Just as you are researching your competitors, they are also researching you and preparing to improve. Do not let yourself get left behind.

By becoming a member of ICAP you’re joining a community of like-minded professionals and business owners in the children’s activity sector working towards excellence