|4. understand what those other bastards are up to|
Rifle through every trade magazine. Poach direct mail pieces. Surf the depths of their Web sites. Illicitly obtain sales brochures.
The purpose of all this covert activity is to identify your competitors' positions and message strategies. You can then scope out where you overlap and where you differ. If you’ve done MindScan research you can tell which of those messages are hitting and which are still open.
Based on that, you can analyze where they’re most susceptible. Where their messages don’t align with audience needs and interests or market perceptions. And even more importantly, where your brand’s opportunities are. (We call this a Message Audit. If you’d like a brief description of the process, click here.)
Just one word of warning: Make sure you know who you’re really competing against, from your customers’ and prospects’ point of view. Danger lurks in your own definitions, my friend. Make sure your competitive frame is large enough to include other industries that might compete for your audience’s time, attention or budget.