Why You Should Include a Competitive Analysis In Your Next Strategic Planning Process
A strategic plan tells your organization where you’re going in the next few years. Setting this course is one of the most important things you can do as a leader. But what about considering where your organization stands relative to competitors? Understanding the landscape is critical to strategically determining your organization’s future goals and successes.
By researching your competitors, you will gain insight into their core differentiators, which may bring to light potential areas of opportunity for your organization. Combined with primary research, these findings can help you understand the factors that can be amplified or dialed down in your strategic plan – ultimately leading to the creation of a strategic plan that appreciates where you can win within your sector.
Here are some key steps for you to consider when incorporating a competitive analysis in your strategic planning process:
Identify your competitors
Prior to conducting a competitive analysis, work to create a list of relevant competitors. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box; broaden your analysis to include a variety of competitors ranging from similar local organizations to similar global organizations, and consider organizations that may be adjacent to your own but serve a similar community or meet a similar need.
Determine what information you will gather
Do you want to understand how competitors market themselves? How they respond to certain environmental and contextual factors or changes within the sector? What systems they use? Their relative size?
As you conduct your research, don’t be afraid to keep your eyes open for things you may not have anticipated. A thorough review of publicly available materials may reveal insights you had not been expecting.
Ask yourself what this data means for your organization
Is your sector saturated or underserved? Are there key opportunity areas that you are able to capitalize on right now? That you may need to plan for in the future? That are simply not right for your organization? While it is important, the competitive analysis is only one input in the strategic plan. Consider the learnings from the competitive analysis alongside other inputs – for instance, comprehensive internal and external stakeholder consultations – as you move forward to make the choices that matter for your organization’s future.
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