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How to assess your competition

The world of business is a world of competition.In every move you make, you need to be watching to see what the competition is doing, how much they're selling their product/service for, how long it takes them to produce a product, how many they are able to sell, etc.Without assessing your competition, you won't survive as a company.You'll be out-produced or out-sold on all your products.That is why you need to know how to assess your competition.And this article will teach you how.

First, learn from your competitors strengths.One of the best ways to assess the competition is to see what they're doing right.It seems rather obvious when you think about it.But our culture is so focused on monitoring what our competitor does wrong (and therefore what we're doing better than they are) that we often miss the obvious good things that they do.Ask yourself or your management team what the five smartest things three of your major competitors did.Examine the results.Were those things considered by your company?Were they rejected by your company?How did their success impact your business?What enabled them to have any advantage over your company?How can you change that?

Another way to assess your competition is from a bit of role playing.Put yourself in the shoes of your biggest competitor.What does s/he think of you?What kinds of patterns do they stick to?What kind of leader is s/he?Doing this will enable you to try to think like your competition.And if you can think like your competition, you may be able to work like them.Or maybe even work better than them.

Here are some guidelines to help you to assess and then compete with your opposing companies:
- Assess your adversary by asking yourself these questions: are they a trusted and endearing company, or are they perceived as an arrogant bully (no one would really care if you bashed Wal-Mart or Target).
- Make sure you can win the war that you start. Don't start something you can't finish. Assess your resources and the staying power that you have across your organization.This means that you shouldn't go after your competitors with opposing advertising if they have an overwhelmingly powerful sales force that could grind out your message into the ground.
- Give you and your company flexibility. Give your people the ability to go "negative" when they need to be and positive when they need to be, without building it into every PowerPoint presentation and splashing it all over your Web site.
- How permanent are your advantages? It's a quick-shift business world, and it would be a strategic mistake to position your company based on short-lived competitive strengths. And if something is working for you in the marketplace, you could be shooting yourself in the corporate foot to make that strategy too visible.
- Understand your industry. Though we live in an "attack culture," there are still some precincts of business that recoil at steroidal marketing, and engaging in those tactics would backfire. But that is rapidly changing. Even hospitals, which used to see themselves as loftily above the hustle and bustle of the business world, are taking off the surgical gloves and running highly competitive marketing efforts based on their rankings, their patient outcomes, and other advantages.

Whether you like it or not, competition is part of the business world.And it is up to you to be able to assess the nature of your competition and then create a challenging atmosphere wherein you and your business can succeed.

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