Mythbusters: Competitive Analysis Does Not Equal Feature Comparison

I’ve heard it many times: “We’ve run through our competitors and compiled the list of features they have.” And the next ones usually go as “Now we have a better understanding of the main features our product has to have” and “Now we know they don’t have this feature we want to add, so it will be our differentiating point.”

Sadly, all of these are huge delusion.

Competitive Analysis

Features that your competitor product has is THEIR way of reacting to the changes in THEIR business environment, alongside the market changes, competitive threat, and many-many other factors you might not be aware of (or at least they don’t lie on the surface).

  • How do you know you are not copying your competitor’s yesterday’s mistakes?
  • Are they not going to give up on that feature next quarter?
  • Are you sure the competitors don’t copy after each other and build the product capabilities their target customer needs?
  • Did you also consider your indirect competition (which may happen to be even more powerful than the direct one)?

I’m not saying the feature comparison isn’t useful. It definitely is, when

  • conducted along with other activities that are a part of competitive analysis and together help build the complete picture of your competitive landscape
  • besides analyzing the feature set itself, the attention is paid to understanding the elements that support the product’s value proposition, key benefits to the target customer, and the customer’s perspective of value

Feature comparison is one of multiple dimensions of the competitive audit, which includes but not limited to:

  • Content audit
  • Marketing strategy
  • Social media presence
  • Offline presence
  • Key success factors & Distinctive competencies
  • First-hand evaluation of the competitive product
  • Customer feedback
  • Financial indicators
  • Business model review
  • Positioning strategy review
  • Distribution channels & Channel partners
  • Product packaging & pricing

The idea behind the competitive analysis is not to understand where your competition is now, but

  • Why they are where they are now, what led them there
  • Whether they are satisfied with their current position on the market
  • Where they will be when your product is ready

One more thing: competitive analysis is never complete. It’s not enough to do it once. Strive to build an efficient system for ongoing monitoring of your competitive landscape to timely respond to emerging threats and opportunities.
The better you know your competitors, the better you can predict their next move.

More on Project Management in Elena’s articles: Mythbusters: a Product Does Not Have to be Unique to Succeed and How to Get Your Ideas Heard by the Business?

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