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When it comes to plotting your business plan competitive analysis, it is critical you are able to not only identify your competition, but also list strategies to effectively leverage their presence for maximum profit. This is exactly why you should be using Battlenomics as your framework for your business plan's competitive analysis.

The Battlenomics Business Plan Competitive Analysis

Step 1: Identify Your Organizational Competitors

Your Organizational Competitor is your most competitive adversary, and this is because they offer the same *product and *benefit as you.

*For the sake of simplicity, let's just use 'product' as umbrella for services.

*Benefits are value added by products

Because you are both selling that same products and benefits, your inline competitors are those organizations that are very difficult to differentiate from your own, and that is why the best strategy for defeating your inline competitor is branding.

In your business plan competitive analysis, ensure you list all of your top Organizational Competitors, their presence on your business landscape (online, geographical region, etc.), as well as their particular branding strategy. For example, Pepsi (PEP) was the young, hip, modern and popular soft drink of the 90's, according to them. FedEx promoted their delivery as overnight thereby branding themselves in accordance with the velocity of service. President Obama listed change as his differentiating piece, and Best Buy built their brand on lower prices.


Best Buy (1997)

Organizational Competition Strategy: You need to directly market against your top competitors' brand with your own unique selling feature. These types of features are literally endless, such as Burger's Kings differentiating piece against McDonald's by promoting they use "broiling, not frying" to produce a better tasting and seemingly 'healthier' burger. Never forget that for every attribute there is an opposite and equally as valuable attribute.

Here are a few examples that will help your business stand out from the competition while maximizing the value of your product's features:

  • Organizational Competitor: McGarry's Plumbing "We've been in business since 1968"
  • Your business: Modern Plumbers Plus: "Because your Dad's plumbing service wastes time, and your money"
  • Organizational Competitor: The Advanced Preparatory Center for Learning:  "Teaching your kids, better."
  • Your business: Charter Multicultural West: "Teaching your kids about the world."
  • Organizational Competitor: Taft and Taft LLC "Lawyers for $499 or less!"
  • Your business: Matthew Steffen Criminal Law: "When money doesn't matter, but verdicts do"
  • Organizational Competitor:Office Depot: "Taking Care of Business"
  • Your business: Dunder Mifflin: "Taking care of you"

The bottom line is the best approach you can take toward plotting strategies against your inline competition is identifying their individual brands, and branding yourself directly against them.

Pro tip: Don't forget you can use multiple slogans in multiple business platforms, so as long as they're consistent.

For example, say perhaps you are directly marketing against your competitor's ads in the local paper. They are using a new technology they invented, and you are banking on your customer service. Don't forget to add that information into the description of your meta-tag data of your website when competing with an inline competitor in search engines.


Step 2: Identify Your Product Competitors

Your Products Competitors offers the same exact product as you (in terms of features that is), yet, with a very different benefit.

For example, Facebook (FB) was originally aimed at college kids, while MySpace openly invited everyone. While the product was the same (Social Media utility), the benefits were not:

Facebook: a place for college students to connect. Benefit: exclusivity, relevant geographically distinct dialogue, less spam, etc.

MySpace: a place for everyone to connect. Benefit: wide range of participants

So you can see how the exclusivity of Facebook originally helped it take-off, while over time eating up MySpace's market share and eventually becoming a total social utility solution for over 1 billion people worldwide. Let's talk about another one.

Axe body spray was launched in France in 1983 by Unilever (UN). It's debut in America featured this product as having the potential to explicitly attract women, thus launching widespread controversy among many groups that Axe promoted sexism and promiscuity.


The 'AXE' Effect (2006)

Products Competition Strategy: Axe's popularity soared as a result of strict benefit differentiation, and that is exactly how you market against your Products Competitors. Identify who your Products Competitors are (same product, different benefit), and ensure you promote how and/or why the benefit (real or perceived) of your product is different. Remember, in the world of promotions, there is no 'better', only different.

Here are a few examples that will help the benefits of your product stand out from the competition:

  • Products Competitor: Bob's Restaurants "Best BBQ Ribs in Kentucky"
  • Your business: Mary's Hearty Ribs "One plate, one really full stomach"
  • Products Competitor: Tactiles Mergers and Acquisitions "Your first call"
  • Your business: Johnson's Mergers "We prevent collisions in culture"
  • Products Competitor: Adidas's Running Shoes "Faster than light"
  • Your business: Hermes  Running Sneakers"What ankle pain?"
  • Products Competitor: A&B General Contractors "Done right the first time"
  • Your business: "It's about Craftsmanship"

Always ensure you are leveraging every opportunity to insinuate your product as 'superior' (different), to your Products Competitors'.

Pro tip: Just remember that branding is not just about a stupid slogan. A good brand or differentiating piece is where your business lives in terms of value and personality. You gauge your product to fit a certain perception you wish the public to have about the benefit of your product, and then ensure your business is married to this idea in all of your marketing materials and dealings with customers.


Step 3: Identify Your Benefit Competitors

Your Benefit Competitors offer a different product than you with a similar benefit, however.

For example, we had a couple sister Charter School approach us and were in need of increasing enrollment. I first took the lead and identified their perpendicular competitors as: Music teachers, art teachers, sports leagues and Cub Scout Troops. As you can see, the benefits of our client and these examples is nearly identical in theory: Increased socialization, education, self-esteem and hand and eye coordination for children.

Benefit Competitor Strategy: Once you identify your Benefit Competitors, you have a couple options in the interest of increasing your business, but you can't use both (you'll see why later). Here is what you can do:

  1. Sell your Benefit Competitor's products as complementary goods, or,
  2. Form a working affiliation between you are your Benefit Competitors.

As you can see, it would be an obvious betrayal of your affiliation if you were to have somebody refer business to you while you sell the exact same products as them.

The closest thing I have heard of this working was when Borders Book Store allowed Amazon to handle its sales online. Somebody please cue the burial music...

So, what we basically did as a marketing agency for the Charter School's mentioned above was reach out to all of their local perpendicular competitors, and ask them to distribute flyers for an open house our client was hosting. The bottom line is essentially a perpendicular competitor has found another way of solving a problem. While they sell different products, they can also be very tied into your target market, and so this is a great opportunity to increase your products to minimize the impact of the value of their business, or, leverage them as a promotional tool.

Here are a few examples that will help you identify and seize revenue-driving opportunities with your Benefit Competitors:

  • Your business: Peggy's Athletic Wristbands
    • Benefit of product: Success in exercising
  • Benefit Competitors:
      • Osiris Jogging Sneakers
      • Belle Wintertime Jogging Shorts
      • Workout Journals r Us
      • Apple iPod
  • Your business: Maggie's Bridal Cakes
    • Benefit of product: a successful wedding celebration
  • Benefit Competitors: 
      • Candid Spa and Facial Factory
      • New Orleans Photography Inc.
      • Our Lady of Calvary Church
  • Your business: Martin's Gun's and Grit
    • Benefit of product: gun sports and self-defense
  • Benefit Competitors:
    • Tactical Edge Knee-pads Inc.
    • Balley Ballistic Eyewear
    • Gun Safety Gun Safes
  • Your business: Albright Dog Kennel
  • Benefit Competitors:
      • Albright Veterinarians
      • Albright Animal Rescue
      • Albright Travel Guide's LLC
      • Albright's Original Scoop that Poop Service, est. 1933

The most successful business start-ups lacking capital, I find, are the ones who can cleverly scan their business landscape and identify and seize promotional opportunities with their Benefit Competitors.

Pro tip: There is no substitution for learning every last detail about your target market. Create a sketch of your ideal customer in terms of location, race, age, sex, etc., and create a profile you can use to reasonably predict how they spend their day, what keeps them up at night, and what they love and hate. With this broad profile, you will be able to seize revenue producing opportunities with Benefit Competitors you may have never even considered.


Step 4: Identify Your Parallel Competitors

Your Parallel Competitor offers a completely different product and benefit as you. While you are not in direct competition, you are in competition never-the-less.

For example, do you go to Disney World this year, or convert your pergo floors to hardwood? Do you buy a new computer, or buy your girlfriend a necklace? Do you go back to college, or take out a business loan? Point and fact, while parallel competitors are not directly trying to deprive you of sales in anyway, they do offer alternatives to your product in a free market society where people have limited resources, and endless choices.

Parallel Competitor Strategy: Just like your perpendicular competitors, your parallel competitors can serve your target market on a regular to irregular basis.  Moreover, they may have a very strong relationship that resonates with your target market which can provide you with a very effective business affiliate. So, your strategy is just that: You will list parallel competitors that serve your target market, and create an affiliation with them accordingly.


Dodge Durango and Ron Burgundy  (2013)

As you'll notice in the above advertisement, two seemingly non-intersected products (hence the 'parallel' aspect') are being promoted, a Dodge Durango SUV, and DreamWorks character Ron Burgundy from Anchorman. Both DreamWorks (DWA) and Dodge (DODGX) were in agreement in terms of the target market they could address by piggybacking their promotional messages collectively. The result is a very funny, attention-grabbing and effective sales message that incidentally went viral on social media. This is why your parallel competitor is your least competitive adversary with the most revenue producing potential for your business.

By the way, your best parallel competitors which will facilitate your growth are also the most difficult to identify in your business plan competitive analysis.

Here are some examples of parallel competitors who serve your target market:

  • Your Business: Bridget's Candles
    • Target market: Females aged 25-55 (be more specific in your business plan competitive analysis)
  • Parallel Competitors:
    • Monica's Refresh Spa
    • Mountaintop Day Care
    • Saxby's Coffee Shop
  • Your Business: Men's Techno Magazine
    • Target market: Males aged 21-35
  • Parallel Competitors:
    • Voc Vodka
    • National RC/AM Championship
    • Atlantic City Cigar Outlet
  • Your Business: Pocono Mountain Resort
    • Target market: Married couples aged 45-60
  • Parallel Competitors:
    • Lincoln Town Car
    • Brooks Brothers
    • Golden Girls TV show
  • Your Business: The U.S. Marine Corps.
    • Men aged 17-24
  • Parallel Competitors:
    • Maxim Magazine
    • National Rifle Association
    • Bud Light
    • Trojan Condoms

When it comes to identifying and exploiting your competition in your business plan competitive analysis, you want to ensure you not only properly categorize your competition, but also use a framework tool such as Battlenomics to guide your strategic planning and decision making.


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Matt Steffen

"Don't compete -- DOMINATE!"

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