Beating the Competition as a Scaling FirmAugust 12, 2019
Understanding your competition and how to differentiate in a new market is critical for any scaling firm. Beating the competition, on the other hand, requires much more. As any swimmer will tell you, the key to winning a race is to keep your head down and focus on your strengths.
While every scaling firm needs market knowledge, we were curious about the return on investment for competitive research? To what degree can (and should) it be used to beat the competition?
For some expert insight on the topic of competitive research, we spoke with Michael Vigeant, CEO of Greatblue Research. We interviewed Michael in a webinar on June 25th, 2019 titled What You Don’t Know Can Kill Your Business: Nailing Market Research for U.S. Market Entry.
We started by asking Michael how much emphasis scaling firms should place on competitive landscape analysis.
Where and how to begin with competitive research
Competitive research is a fundamental input to gaining a full view of the opportunity that a particular geographic location presents. Without it, scaling firms find it difficult to verify the benefits of selecting one region or city over another.
For a full list of factors to consider when selecting a geographic region to scale your company, check out this post.
Michael suggested approaching market analysis and competitive research, particularly for the U.S. market, from two perspectives.
First, you want to use market analysis to better understand the opportunity in one market versus another. For example, purchasing practices, investment trends, startup costs, and infrastructure.
Next, Michael suggests that you’ll want to understand who else is offering a competitive product or service in that market and what your competitive advantage is with target customers.
These early investments are important for scaling firms. But how much should companies invest in competitive research beyond these initial phases?
How much value should be placed on competitive research?
As a market research expert, Michael believes that understanding your competition to a certain degree is important, but recommends not going overboard.
Beyond using market research to help you determine where to look for target customers, how your pricing compares, and what your differentiators are, Michael recommends investing in learning how to better serve them.
“At the end of the day, particularly in the B2B world, your measure of success will be whether you can stand in front of your target customer and say: this is what we do, here is our experience, and this is how we can solve your problem. At that point, they are either going to believe you or they’re not.”
“I really believe that if you spend time focusing on understanding the needs of your target customers and how you can deliver an authentic solution, you can overpower any competition.”
Is there such a thing as too much competitive research?
“There’s such a thing as paralysis by analysis,” Michael suggests. Over-investing in competitive research prompts many CEOs to pivot too much, in turn detracting from their authenticity.
“The key to beating the competition is knowing what you do well and not being too generic about it.”
Where is the greatest ROI in market research?
We’ve established that market research is necessary at the early stages of entering a new market. The greatest ROI, however, lies in testing your solution, or your hypothesis, directly with your revenue source, i.e. your target customers.
“You could spend tons and tons of money on market analysis, or you could invest those resources in the time and energy it takes to do your homework with your audience.”
Getting in and getting to work in determining how you can deliver an authentic solution as a scaling firm will deliver the greatest return on investment. Michael suggests thinking of it as MVP versus end goal, in which case your investment in research is far more internal than external.
Keeping your head above water to monitor the competition will not only slow you down, but it may also end the race completely. On the other hand, try remaining focused on cultivating your strengths, authenticity, and relevance with your target market. You may find yourself, leagues ahead of the competition.
For more insights from Michael Vigeant, CEO of Greatblue Research, check out our entire interview here.
To check out all of MEET’s webinar content on how to successfully scale your company in the U.S. market, subscribe to our YouTube Channel.
MEET (meetroi.com) helps international B2B growth companies soft-land and scale in the U.S. through trade shows and in-person events. MEET’s processes help its clients ramp-up sales quickly and maintain a steady stream of high-quality prospects going forward. Contact Bill Kenney for a no-obligation conversation: firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 (860) 573-4821.