Identifying Your Indirect Competition

A cityscape with the words Identifying Your Indirect Competition overlaying the image.

Coaching a client through understanding and identifying their competition sometimes looks a bit like this:

Me: Who is your competition?
Client: We don’t have competitors yet. No one offers what we have!
Me: Well that’s great! So when you lose business, what typically costs you the sale?
Client: Usually it’s over price.
Me: Who are you more expensive than?
Client: [ X alternate product. ]
Me: That’s your competition.

Another company doesn’t need to offer the same (or an iteration of your) product to be your competition. It just needs to offer your customers another option for completing the same/similar job.

Public transit is competition for car rental companies.
Doordash adds competition for my local Chinese food restaurant. (And Uber Eats is competition for Doordash.)

For another example, we work with several businesses within the tourism industry. Some of these clients offer tours of an area, period of time, or culture. They have obvious and direct competitors in businesses that are offering a similar tour experience within the same (or neighboring) area. A slightly wider definition of competition includes tour experiences that aren’t the same, but are still within driving distance. However, they are also in competition with non-tour experiences, such as events or activities that would attract people away from taking a tour at their location. (“Things to do in Lancaster County” is a popular phrase all of our tourism clients like to rank for!) Even weather can force a type of competition if your experience depends on certain weather conditions to be considered. A beautiful day might make a spontaneous picnic at the park your competition if your tour experience is predominantly indoors.

Recognizing all of your levels of competition gives you an advantage. From your direct competition, you can observe how they attract your target audience as well as how they meet some of the same challenges you face. Your indirect competition, however, holds the key to your next innovative idea. You can see how they meet your customers’ needs with services completely different from your own, and you can use what you learn to inspire changes in your processes or services to meet their needs even better.

The bottom line is this: as a business, you must continually offer a key difference, great benefit, and solid value. And of course, you need to wrap it up with compelling creative, targeted marketing, and sufficient repetition. Give us a call to start making that happen.