It is a crowded marketplace.

Whichever product or service you name, there is a legion in the market.

Even if the product or service is not similar, their characteristics and functionalities overlap.

The dividing line is thin to say the least.

With the internet helping customers buy from a wide array of products, it is becoming more challenging than ever before for companies to eke out a manageable competitive advantage.

For businesses, it has become very difficult to discern competition. This is because they have direct and indirect threats.

Moreover, even the best brains in business go wrong.

Microsoft’s CEO had predicted that the iPhone is unlikely to get any significant market share.

He was stunningly mistaken even with access to unlimited information and intelligence.

This underscores the need for businesses to make robust competitive analysis.

In this era, you have no choice.

If you want to stay in business you must identify your competitors, evaluate their tricks of the trade, and understand their strengths and weakness in relation to your own offerings in the market.

The aim of this effort is to gather information so that you can create your own strategy to beat your rivals in business.

And this job has to be done on a continual basis because the competitor landscape is volatile.

The threat of disruption is real.

Disruption takes many forms chiefly driven by the unconstrained nature of the competition.

Globalization, technological innovations, the ubiquity of the internet, and the changing consumer behavior are all contributing to product disruptions.

So how to select the right companies for analysis?

You can kick-start by answering the following questions:

• Who are your key customers?
• What is the core benefit your customers derive when they buy your product or service?
• What technology do you use to solve their problems?

In short, you have to answer the who, what, and how of your business.

Once you take on board the answers to above, you can get a list of those companies that sell similar products/services and solve similar problems.

You can call these your direct competitors.

But then you have indirect competitors as well.

Indirect competition is the divergence between sellers whose products and services are not the same but satisfy similar consumer needs.

A good example of indirect competition is vendors of desktops and notebooks.

Both the products fulfill similar the need of the consumer. Yet, the sales of desktop computer nosedived whereas those of notebooks went up.

Competition in content marketing

Successful businesses know how effective a content marketing strategy is to gain an edge over their rivals.

A lot of companies are competing against you to get a top slot in search engine rankings.

That means you have to create effective content choosing the right search term and by taking into account word count for SEO.

And then you have to answer questions like:

• Which keywords are pushing their rankings high?
• What type of contents do they publish – blogs, audio, video, or Infographics?

You could be investing a great deal in technology, processes, marketing, and hiring the right staff. But you must not falter while understanding competition and where your company stands in the marketplace.

Author's Bio: 

Mike Smith has hand-on experience in content marketing and that’s the reason why his blogs on the subject are educative and easy to understand. Mike has been a creative writer and is focused on the world of content marketing for many years now.