Joshua Conran is the Managing Partner at Deksia.View all articles written by this author
The competitive audit is the last step in our four-part brand research process. By this stage, you’ve found out who you are, who your clients say you are and who your potential clients want you to be; now you need to discover what your competitors are not.
When looking at competitors, you need to figure out what they’re really good at. You’ve already found what you’re really good at, but it there’s too much overlap between you and the competition, you need to change something. You’re probably not going to be able to compete with them if they’re really good at it, so you have to come at it from a different angle.
If you own a gas station, in theory your primary service is selling gas. But there might be another gas station right down the road that sells two hot dogs and a soda for $2. Even though you’re not really in the hot dog business, something like this can be a factor that takes people away from you and to them. If I’m hungry and I need gas, I’m going to the hot dog place. Something this simple attracts people, because it’s an added value for them.
Imagine you’re driving down a street, and you’re hungry. There’s a McDonald’s to your right, a Wendy’s to your left and a Burger King a bit farther down the road. You know McDonald’s is cheap and convenient, and Wendy’s is where you go if you want a baked potato and fresh vegetables. But if you’re in the mood for that smoky flavor that only Burger King provides out of those three options, you’ll probably make the extra effort to drive down the street. Even though all three are in the same basic area and offer the same basic service, if your stomach is rumbling and flame broiled sounds good to you, you’ll drive past McDonalds and Wendy’s to go to Burger King. They have that distinguishing factor that makes the difference.
You need customers to want to turn from two streets over, or to plan their route on their way home to stop off because your business offers something no one else does. You’ve got to become a destination. You want to be a place people think of when they want a certain experience, whether it’s to buy a car or to get a burger. You want to be an experience they think about, or a place they make an effort to go to, because you offer something your competitors do not. The only way to figure that out is to take a close look at your competition via the competitive audit.