Online Brands

How to (legally) Peek Into Your Competitor’s Strategic Toolbox

Ever wonder how to get an idea about what your major competitors have in their strategic marketing toolbox? Here are a few not so unorthodox ways to peek inside. And as a bonus, they are perfectly legal!

Analysing competitors is tricky business. It is tedious, time consuming and half the time you wonder if you are even on the right path. Sometimes it seems as though the only way to find out is to send in a double agent or hack computers. But that’s not exactly ethical or legal.

However there are some intuitively simple yet undeniably genius ways to get in your competitors heads. Hey if you are skilled enough you might just be able to predict their moves before they even think of them. Indeed there are ways to make yourself the most feisty and annoying competitor in the industry.

There are several tools available each with their own distinct purpose. Here are three of the most applicable and easy to implement immediately tools. I’ve put them in order of which ones you should apply first. Without further ado:

Know Your Competition: Competitor Health Check

The Competition Health Check is exactly what it sounds like – you are diagnosing your competitors. This is done in seven steps:

  1. Define actual/potential target market
  2. List benefits-sought and weight them according to importance if necessary
  3. Define actual/potential offer
  4. Define competitor’s offerings
  5. Score out of 10 yourself vs your competitor relative to the delivery of each benefit
  6. Work out the totals
  7. Interpret the results and any pattern of scores. From this work out relative strengths and weaknesses. 

This analysis tool is quite scientific. While aspects of it could be based on best judgement, it involves using an equation tailoured to your unique industry. The findings can be detailed or brief – it depends how much time you have to invest in this research. If you want to take it a step further and wow some people in the boardroom, you can present the findings in a graph.

Be Your Competition: Key Success Factors

According to an article on Emerald insight, “in most industries the key to competitive success usually hinges around certain crucial activities.” Your mission as a marketing strategist or manager is to determine what the certain crucial activities or key success factors are.

You can do this by examining the differences between market winners and market losers. After conducting a competitor health check, you can have a pretty good idea about who is winning and who is losing! But there is usually a clear market winner, market competitor, market followers and a market loser. 

Once you have analysed what the winners do to make themselves successful, you can apply this to your own business. But you should be aware that copying their marketing strategy word for word is a bad idea. Not only would you possibly face legal issues (depending on where in the world you are) you likely won’t ever overtake them.

Why? Well firstly because they are well-established in their strategy. They know exactly how to do what they do best. And secondly because their strategy is established in customers minds. Copying them wouldn’t be seen positively. Imitation is not the only route to success.

Defeat Your Competition: Reverse SWOT Profiling

Now this is where you can finally overtake your competitor. Get in their heads and get to the punchline before they have even said the joke. And you know what the most brilliant part of this tool is? You already know how to use it.

I can say that with surety because the SWOT chart is one of the most commonly used management tools ever. If you haven’t used it, you have at least heard of it. A reverse SWOT chart involves plotting a SWOT chart from your competitors perspective.

Consider findings from the health check. Analyse how Key Success Factors play into strengths and opportunities. Chart it all out on a SWOT chart. And if you think like them (which after so much analysis I’d be surprised if you didn’t) you might just have an exact replica of their SWOT chart. 

This chart really is great for annihilating competition when you think of it. If you know their strengths, you know what you need to improve on. If you know their weaknesses, you know where you can attack or overtake. And their opportunities and threats are exactly the same as yours. So grab those opportunities before them and monitor threats.