How fast your competitors run?

Your competitors are a compass for your business. If you are not interested in their results and achievements, you can achieve peace in short-term. But in long-term – you risk staying away after them…

Who are your competitors?

Sometimes I am surprised that many business managers do not know their exact competitors. It has happened to hear how small local businesses consider global leaders as competition or compete for a customer’s attention with companies with different portfolios and therefore define them as their competition…

When I worked in the software services business, the Bulgarian software companies considered their Indian and Ukrainian counterparts as their rivals in the Western European market. I wondered how we could compete with an Indian software company, for example, with 700 programmers working for double lower wages than ours?

The other interesting belief was that the Bulgarian software service providers have been more innovative than the Western European companies and have had more talented software engineers. This – in a situation where many Bulgarian companies underestimate the training of their people and hardly create their own products that are successful on the international market.

Your competitors are companies that:

  • Offer similar to your products and services
  • Work for the same markets, industries or target groups of customers
  • Are of similar size
  • Have similar production capacity
  • exist in a similar business environment
  • Have production technology similar to yours

If  you don’t know who your competitors are, you can analyse the competition correctly, but you analyse the incorrect competition:)

What information about your competitors you need?

Most often you compare yourselves to the financial indicators of your competitors. Some 10 years ago for Bulgaria this was not very indicative, considering that many companies have not reported their exact business results, and this was a public secret. It’s better to interpret trends or indicators – because from the annual reports you can catch the development trends easily.

Most often you compare yourselves to the financial indicators of your competitors. Some 10 years ago for Bulgaria this was not very indicative, considering that many companies have not reported their exact business results, and this was a public secret. It’s better to interpret trends or indicators – because from the annual reports you can catch the development trends easily.

Other relevant information about your competitors:

  • How does business grow as a number of staff and production capacity
  • Are they entering new markets and which ones?
  • Are they introducing new products and services in the market
  • Do they earn prizes, what certificates they have
  • Who are their business partners
  • Who are their clients
  • Do they change their form of ownership and management method

A few companies know how exactly to analyse the marketing strategies and approaches of their competitors. From there you can learn a lot – not just about where the competitors are, but also where you are, whether you are lagging behind in communicating with your customers, whether your products are ageing, whether your technology and your knowledge are out-of-date…

Where and how often do you look at your competitors?

Most business managers in Bulgaria are fans of word-of-mouth research – when the business manager has been to some cocktail or Christmas party and a colleague had told him that… The approach is based on random and sporadic gathering of facts, and with this approach it is difficult not only to act pro-actively but also to react in a real time.

It’s nice to have a systematic approach for tracking your competitors:

  • Leave yourself quite consciously a few hours a month to review their websites.
  • Follow the press – online or print business and specialised newspapers and magazines can tell you a lot.
  • Attend fairs and exhibitions, view your competitors ‘ stands, take their promotional brochures and informational materials, see their advertising messages.
  • Ask your acquaintances or employees to make a call with their merchants and explore how they offer their products to competitors.

Time to change?

Collecting facts is just the beginning. Analyse them together with your associates. Compare your state to the business results of your competitors, their production and human resources, their product development, their marketing strategies and tactics.

At least once a year you can make an internal company seminar for comparison with the competition with participation of the leading people in your company.

Brain storming with your leading people will help you look at the situation from different perspectives and decide the time to take changes in your company and products to make you competitive.



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Pavlina D. Kozarova

Pavlina has worked for 20+ years as marketing specialist and business development manager in several Bulgarian and international IT and consulting firms. Her expertise is in the fields of project planning and management, business development, marketing & sales, innovation development and commercialization. Pavlina runs consultancy business with www.primavera88.com