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April 11, 2013

Do You Know What Your Competitors Are Doing?

business competitorsI don’t care how ‘handmade,’ ‘unique,’ or ‘one-of-a-kind’ your product or flavors are.  Your customers only have so many dollars in their wallet that they’re willing to spend on specialty food products which means that you do have competitors.  So do you know who they are and what they’re doing?

Can you answer these questions?  (If  not, you now have your homework for the week!)

  1. Who are your direct competitors?  These are the companies that offer similar products to yours and are readily available to your customers.
  2. How are those products packaged?  How have they positioned themselves in the marketplace?  Who do you think their target customers are?  How are they marketing their products to consumers?  Go through their website, check out their press releases, do a Google search and see what comes up.
  3. What are their price points?  Where/how are their products sold?

Now go back and do the exercise again for your indirect competitors, those other specialty food products that compete with you even if the products themselves may be different.  For example, if you sell prepared foods at farmers’ markets what other prepared foods vendors are there?  It doesn’t matter that you’re selling Indian naan bread and they’re selling enchiladas; they are a competitor.  Same goes for a chocolate company vs. a caramel maker – there’s only so many sweets a person is going to buy.  If you’re a food truck don’t just take into account the other food trucks in the areas you serve but also the brick-and-mortar restaurants, cafes, and bars.

What will going through this exercise help you accomplish?  Done well, you’ll be able to get a more holistic understanding of where your product and your company stands in the greater competitive landscape.  You may determine that there’s an opening in the marketplace that no one’s yet tapped into from a product or positioning standpoint or you may find that there are things your competitors are doing marketing-wise that you may want to try yourself.

Don’t forget, none of us work in a vacuum and your actions most certainly impact those around you.  Same goes for your competitors so be sure you’re aware of what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.

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