Competition – Where To Find It

I recently got a call from an incubator entrepreneur I worked with in California. I wondered why he called. He said he was looking for a way to get more information on the competition. I said WOW, because he could gather information on the Internet in 15 minutes, that used to take me weeks when I first started.

This gave me a chance to remind him again that the Internet and social media are tools of marketing Maybe this was finally sinking in. I told him okay, let me tell you how I used to have to do it in the “Dark Ages.” This is how the phone call went with me giving him suggestions.

  1. Start out – having an open mind and respect for the competition.
  1. Frustrated presentations – it’s amazing how many presentations I sit through that start out with the entrepreneur saying there’s no competition. The financial projections may include going to tens of millions of dollars in revenue, while them saying they are in a billion-dollar market. No compensation? If so, who’s doing the rest of the billion dollars.
  1. Try Trade shows – almost all product categories and markets are covered in trade shows. I reminded him when he said one of his apps has nothing like it in the market, I suggested he go to the annual consumer show in Las Vegas. When he came back, he said he saw two apps similar to his. With over 100,000 people attending a show like this and thousands “selling” he was bound to see and learn something from it, even to just see how the consumer market was moving.
  1. Magazines – look for those with printed ads that might have products that are in the market segment you have chosen. In working with entrepreneurs I am able to even find information from the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg magazine, that helped. Magazines like Entrepreneur and Inc. have lots of information that could help him.
  1. Newsletters – Searching for newsletters like he, and one I feature weekly in my newsletter;, that has continuing articles about the social media market.
  1. Benchmarking – This is where the ability to search the Internet for anything that resembles something similar even though not in your direct market. For instance, one team I worked with had as a product, men’s designer garments and checked on Victoria’s Secret’s. The effort yielded useful information, like how long it took for them to be successful.
  1. Failed companies – Look for companies that might’ve failed, perhaps even with a great technology, but due to poor cash management, so the company ran out of cash. Some engineering entrepreneurship’s put too much effort on the product and not how to run a company. I know there was a company that was able to pick up on voice recognition, because a company that had a product failed..
  1. Public Companies – Seek public companies that are in your market, that have annual reports. There are several pages that are very interesting, because they are forced by the federal government, to spill their guts.
  1. Strategy – be sure to decide if you’re going to create a market or entering an existing market. Creating a market with no true competition will cost several millions of dollars, or like some Silicon Valley companies, several billions of dollars. To get that kind of money, it would need a product that has: what the market needs; true differentiation; like no one else; the potential for an emerging market and a disruptive technology. In an existing market, if you want to do a niche segment, look for the weakness of the leader. If you want to be the leader, then look for the strength of the present leader to beat.
  1. Customers – can be the best source, especially early adopters. They may tell you if they have found a better source for their need than your product. If you have made a proposal to a customer, and lost, ask for a debriefing to find out who won, and why. I worked with a team that had a medical system that would help MRIs. They had a great contact with the head of radiology at a local hospital and he helped them with information in the market.

After dumping all this on him I was surprised he was still awake. As always I asked him, after a couple days, let me know whether or not he’s going to do anything about it. The answer could help my ego.