I’ve been preparing some marketing material for work and as part of it I did a competitor analysis.

I had a think about who my competitors are in the financial planning industry in Adelaide, and listed out the differences between their businesses and mine.  I looked at things like pricing, service offers, how personal the service is, the investment philosophies etc.

I did a similar exercise a few years ago before I started this business.  In my old job, I managed a group of different financial planners, all of whom ran their own businesses.  I also met with a number of planners all over my city who ran different businesses that were not part of the group I worked for.

The thing that struck me this time was how difficult the task of producing a competitor analysis actually was. 

For almost two years I’ve been running my own business, and have been pretty detached from other planning groups.  I don’t meet with a lot of other planners so I’ve discovered I’m a little isolated from some of the things they’re doing.

I realised I don’t know how a lot of my competitors actually charge for their services and I don’t know what they offer.

I don’t really know who my major competitors are.  Sure, I know who some of the high-profile firms are, but they’re not necessarily my competitors.

I think it’s a very valuable exercise to do an analysis of your competitors.  It helps you understand how your business is positioned in relation to your peers, and helps you focus on the things you do that are unique to your business.

But it’s also important to make sure you do it well.

How well do you know what your competitors do?  Do you know what they offer and what they charge?  Do you know why some prospects use your competitors instead of using you?  Do you know how you’re different?

Have a think about this.  Then do your research and make sure decisions and assumptions you make are based on fact, not just your perception.

Comments are welcome – please let me know what you think.