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What to look for when analyzing competition

While doing a competitive analysis is important, it is equally important to understand that collecting information just to have it is useless. You have to collect information with a goal in mind, otherwise it sits on someone's desk or on a shelf, and is not used to its full potential. This is waste, waste of time, waste of money, waste of shelf space. Knowing how information will be used will help you avoid making the mistake of collecting info that can't be used, and thus is a waste of time, money, and effort.

What you are looking to learn will impact what information you will collect about your competitors. For example, if you are looking to launch a new product, you will want to collect information about what your competitors are doing in the same area. Launching a product only to find your competitors have a bigger, better product that is very similar is a lot of wasted money and effort. Thus, doing a competitive analysis so that you can have a competitive edge is huge, but only if you know what to look for.If you are looking for information about the industry as a whole, and how it is trending, or how your competitors are falling in comparison with trends, then again it is going to be different information collected.

The idea here is that whether you are look at how an industry is developing, or whether or not any new partnerships, mergers, etc. are going to happen, or you just want to straight up compare another company or their product to one of your own, the information requirements will be different in each scenario. If you don't understand this, you will waste hundreds and thousands of dollars collecting information to analyze that you do not need.

Before you gather information when analyzing your competition, know exactly what you are trying to figure out, and what information will best help you get there. Then only pay for the information that is actually going to be useful for you.

A few things to consider when looking to analyze your competition are:
1. How their product or service compares to yours.
2. What they plan to do to stay up with industry trends.
3. Whether they have any acquisitions, mergers, or new partnerships in the future.
Each of these address different areas, and can help you to make informed business decisions. Each requires its own set of information to be analyzed. Analyzing your competition can help you create better marketing plans, better products, and stay a viable part of your industry. However, wasting time, effort, and money on analyzing parts of your competition that really don't matter will only result in lost efforts and finances. Instead, focus your analysis, and see how a focused research and analysis can help you improve (greatly) the way your company does business.

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