Rather than assume you already have your competitors pegged or feel there’s no way to accurately analyze the competition, use a strategy map to better understand your own company as well as how you compare to key rivals. The time and effort to gain perspective, gather information and chart out strategies will pay off with a cogent plan you can communicate to staff, focusing resources on improving your position in the market.
Prepare the Overall Scene
Decide which companies you consider to be the primary competitive set: the top three to five companies you contend with for customers.
Gather key performance indicators on the competitive set. Cull competitive intelligence data from company reports, organization charts, SEC filings, patent applications, press releases or survey results in trade association publications.
Match what you can obtain with internal data; while you should be able to obtain considerably more information about your own company, standardize what you do use for the mapping process across companies to ensure an ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison.
Acquire Four Perspectives
Develop the financial perspective. Gather fiscal data such as revenues, costs, profits and returns. Focus on what it takes to financially support a corporation’s objectives.
Flesh out the customer perspective. Determine how customers view the companies being mapped using market share data, customer satisfaction scores and attitude & usage data. Concentrate on outlining the value proposition unique to each company: how each company acquires and keeps customers.
Establish a perspective on processes. Determine which internal processes each company excels at to accomplish their respective value propositions: what each company does best to satisfy their customers. Fill in pieces using product mix, key operations or facilities, and sales or distribution channels data.
Flesh out the growth and learning perspective. Lay out what technologies or corporate culture support the processes, using intellectual properties such as patents or development news on products or extensions, as well as organizational charts to ascertain how the company structure supports their efforts. This portion of the map highlights how each company structures itself to sustain their ability to execute their process and adapt to market demands.
Draw the Map
Using flow chart software or even programs specifically designed for strategy maps, input the information to graphically represent the interconnection between the four perspectives within your organization.
With your company as a baseline, replicate the graphical representation for each competitor.
Choose one of several ways to depict the competitive landscape. One wasy is to use a large and simplified map showing the rudimentary information for all the competitors, as an ‘at a glance’ chart. The next is to separate maps for each company to set up side-by-side. The third is to use a multi-page ‘atlas’ displaying details on all the companies, with each of the four perspectives getting their own page.
Building on two decades of experience in market research and business writing, John T. Williams sorts through the mix of information, audience and channel, carving out concise, coherent content from raw intel to help clients overcome communications challenges.