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“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”

This saying means that in a landscape where people are at a huge disadvantage, the person with a little bit more knowledge is the one that thrives – and this is precisely why competitor research is so important.

Competition vs Collaboration

Collaboration is amazing for the accounting, consulting and advisory profession.

It enables you to share experiences and to leverage each other’s knowledge in order to improve your offering. Collaboration can absolutely make your business stronger, but you have to remember that you’re ultimately here to build a successful practice, not to make friends.

You’re here to build the best practice out there, make sales and be the go-to for your ideal client.

You can’t be afraid to watch and analyse your competitors. Keeping an eye on what they’re up to is a savvy thing to do – and you have to embrace this. You can’t be afraid of upsetting people and treading on toes.

What is Competitor Analysis?

Competitor analysis is the process of evaluating your competition. It’s about getting to know them inside out, including their products or services, their pricing, their market position and their company as a whole.

All of the mentors I have ever had have insisted that I found out how much my competitors were charging. They told me to experience their businesses so that I could learn from them, even if this meant buying their products or services.

It might be that your competitors are better than you and set an amazing example. Alternatively, you may spot a massive gap in the market and identify an opportunity to fulfil a need that is not currently being met.

By watching your competitors and getting to know the ins and outs of their businesses, you will be able to improve your own business and deliver a better experience.

Who Are Your Competitors?

There are thousands of other accountants, consultants and advisors out there, so how do you know which ones you need to keep an eye on?

Having an industry niche will allow you to identify your competitors. Similarly, if you serve a certain geographic location then your closest competitors will be the other providers in your local area. Alternatively, your service offering will also allow you to identify competitors – who out there is doing the same thing as you?

Areas to Analyse

You don’t have to analyse absolutely everything that your competitors are doing. You want to be a specialist, so look at the aspects of your competitors’ businesses that are most relevant to you.

For example, are they running Facebook groups or attracting high value clients on LinkedIn? Do they have a unique value proposition that makes them stand out from the crowd? Do they have a well-known product or service that sets them apart?

Similarly, look at areas where your competitors perhaps aren’t doing so well. Maybe they have a fantastic offer, but they’re inconsistent about showing up online. Perhaps their message is unclear, or they aren’t speaking to a specific enough niche.

You can’t just copy your competitors, otherwise you simply become a diluted version. Instead, you need to find out how you can become better than them by doing something that they’re not.

You owe it not only to yourself, but to the industry as a whole. By dialling in and differentiating your practice, you’re creating a better experience for your clients and helping them on a deeper level.

How to Analyse Your Competitors

Choose 5-8 competitors and then make a note of:

  • Name
  • Brand name
  • Brand promise
  • Program name
  • Core program outcomes
  • Core learning outcomes
  • Price
  • Timeframe
  • Differentiating factor

There may be some areas that you need to leave blank for your competitors, and this is okay. This means that they are lacking in a certain area, and this is what will allow you to differentiate yourself from them.

Summary

If you’re not doing competitor research then you are doing yourself, and your clients, a disservice.

Competitor research allows you to see what is missing from the market and fill that gap to create a more impactful practice.

I keep a close eye on my competitors at all times with a key question at the forefront of my mind:

“What do my clients need that they currently can’t get?”

Watching your competitors isn’t about feeling inferior, it’s about learning how to serve your clients better and uplevel the industry. You need as much knowledge as possible in order to create an impactful practice.

Knowledge is power, so don’t be afraid to do your research.