The Art of War. It is still very popular today and used to develop strategy for everything from war to personal development. To paraphrase one quote of his, ”Know your enemy and know yourself, and your victory will not be in doubt.” In regards to developing websites, we have already talked about knowing ourselves by looking at why we want a website. Our enemy is our competition.
One of the things I often do for clients is a competitive analysis. First, we determine who our competitor is. We may start making a list of companies that do the same type of work that we do. For example, if I am building a website for a plumbing company, I would make a list of all of the plumbers in the area. Many people will stop there; not me. I will challenge you to look beyond just the other plumbers because they are not your only competitors.
One of the goals is to get in front of the potential customer with the right information as quickly as possible. Any website that may come up before you do is your competitor. If we ignore these sites, we are almost sure to fail. Lets use as an example that we sell photographs online. We are positioned well against others that do the same. The problem is that if we ignore all the websites that talk about taking photographs or showing photo albums for individuals then we are going to get lost in the noise. The potential customer may then overlook us or get distracted and never get to our website.
We also want to look at websites that have similar functions to us. Our goal in looking at competitors is to develop a better strategy. We may not compete directly with these sites but they share many of the same functions and needs for the audience as we do. Use them and their lessons learned to help develop that better strategy.
As the importance and use of the Internet continues to grow in business, competition will become more fierce. It is becoming harder and harder to live in a vacuum and be successful on the Internet. Make sure that you know your enemy and yourself because if you don’t and he does, victory or success will then be in doubt.