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So, it is time to develop your marketing plan or the marketing section of your business plan. The better you understand your competitors and how they are marketing to your customers, the better prepared you are to surpass those competitors in gaining market share.

The tool below helps you arrive at your marketing plans based on what your competitors are doing.  Copy their approach when it makes sense or avoid their tactics to take on better approaches. Conduct research so that you will be able to complete this tool.  Secondary research can be helpful in this effort.  Begin with the research that you conducted when developing the Competitor Marketing Analysis.

Here are some steps to help you accomplish the above:

  1. Identify your competitors – Direct, Indirect and potential (definitions of each are available in the Competitor Landscape Chart article.  The more that you identify the more thorough your knowledge base will be. Research at least two in each category.
  2. Determine what each competitor is “selling” or what the value proposition is that they are marketing to your customers.
  3. Research to find all the ways that each competitor is marketing.  This will give you ideas for how you want to market your own product as well as methods that may not be worth the investment.
  4. Critique those marketing methods and categorize your critique by looking at their methods as strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Use those strengths and weaknesses to develop your own strategy for how you should market based on what you have learned about that competitor.
  6. Now, fill in the template below with the information you found. Once you have that information compiled, either plot your competitors on a graph showing how you measure up with each in regards to performance, quality, cost, etc., by creating Steve Blanks “Petal Diagram”, or by doing an inventory checklist of all the items you offer that your competitors either do or don’t offer as well. Finding a good way to convey this information in your business plan is something that investors will appreciate.

Below are a few examples:

              Petal Chart
Steve Blank

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                                                 Grid Chart
Alexander Jarvis, 50Folds

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               Checklist Chart
Vinterest

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