Know your market and make better decisions

Check these 13 domains to efficiently analyze other market players (Infographic)

Market Maps are an efficient method to gather and organize market information for better decision-making. You should use them to uncover hidden areas of your market systematically and thus understand other market players better. That’s why you should tailor them to your specific business needs.

This article will teach you about the domains to focus on while analyzing different market players. That can be competitors, customers or clients, prospects, and other relevant organizations. The overview will help you observe your market’s pertinent dimensions to support your future decision-making according to your goals.

Is this article relevant for you?

If you want to analyze other market players and work with a systematic approach, I recommend reading this article. You will find out how to save precious time by focusing on what’s relevant to your goals.

The different areas to consider for investigation

Let’s take a look at the dimensions relevant for you to know about other market players. The graphic will give you an overview.

How to analyze market players with a Market Map from smartmarketmap.com

Let’s dive into the details

As you can see, there are a lot of details you can analyze about other market participants.

But should you cover all of them?

No! Usually not.

If you defined your Market Map’s goals, you already know where you’re heading. Your strategic direction is the measuring stick for all aspects you could possibly cover. Only include in your Market Map what is truly relevant to your goals.

Tailor all aspects of your Market Map to your specific needs. Make sure it efficiently supports you on the way to your goals. There is no right or wrong structure. What counts is that you trust the map you set up. These are my recommendations for you to check.

Who is the player? — Basic information

I use the basic information section to set up an extended business card. It covers the defining information about the market players, such as an organization’s names and addresses, contact information, or the management team. This section will help you identify relevant market players and access their core information easily.

Is this section necessary?

I’m convinced it’s mandatory. Every time you involve new people into your Market Map, e. g. new partners or employees, you want them to get to know your market quickly. Also, some of this information will help you with later steps. So, make sure to collect this information thoroughly. There will be other sections you can skip to save time.

Crunching numbers — Business information

Crunching the numbers means that you analyze those business figures that can provide helpful insight. Usually, there is no need to do an in-depth balance sheet analysis. However, watching specific numbers of competitors or prospects can significantly benefit your strategic decisions. You get a better impression of what’s going on behind the scenes. It can be a valuable piece of information that helps you judge other information from a different angle.

However, if your focus is on products and their characteristics, business numbers might not be relevant for you. This is a topic to challenge.

What they do — Products and services

For competitors and other product or service providers of your interest, you should take a closer look at their specific offerings. The depth of your analysis, however, will depend on your goals. Is it essential to get a portfolio overview, or are you looking for in-depth information about competitive products to shape your market strategy? These examples show that your set goals are crucial for deciding how to establish your Market Map.

However, to understand other market players, it’s required to be aware of their offerings. Product and service knowledge is a cornerstone of your market expertise and your product strategy.

Their fanbase — Customers and clients

If you know what your competitors or potential partners offer, the next step is to find out who they serve. Are they working with some major accounts or serving more of a mass-market? Assessing their customer base can focus on different directions: You can discover

  • the exact target groups of a competitor,
  • target group overlaps of potential partners, or
  • the value of an acquisition target.

Again, your strategic goals determine the use of this information and thus the need to dig deeper or keep a simple list. In any case, customer and client knowledge will deepen your insights about market players and help you assess their strengths.

Look at the rivals — Competitors

I know this one might be confusing at first sight. If you analyze your rivals as market players, why should you list their competitors? That’s you and the other opponents anyway, isn’t it?

Well, not necessarily. Your competition might have other competitors as well due to their specific portfolio. And if you’re checking out potential partners from other markets for joint activities, it can help to be aware of their competition. Knowing relevant competitors of other market players can help you draw a big picture of the market and spot threats as well as opportunities.

Who they team up with — Partners

When assessing market players, never forget to check who they team up with. Are they only working on their own, or do they have significant partnerships? If they have strong cooperation with partners to boost their sales or customer experience, I guess you want to know.

However, I’m not talking about certifications or costly partner status logos. Watch out for partnerships you can benefit from or that might be dangerous for your strategy. Partnership information is supposed to protect you from painful surprises when approaching a market.

Their backing — Investors

Depending on the company’s maturity and size, it can help to know its investors and investment-related information. This kind of information can provide valuable insights into their financial situation as well as their business and growth strategy.

Listen up — Channels and publications

Now we’re getting more operational. This one is about communications. Find out where the organization communicates formal and informal information. It can be the organization itself, its representatives, or employees positioning themselves as market experts.

Identifying the relevant communication channels is a precondition for later steps. You will want to listen to an organization and therefore need its communication channels. Public announcements may not reveal secret strategies. But they can help you get closer and add another piece to the puzzle of your market map.

That’s why I recommend you identify channels and publications to follow a company’s communication easily.

The big picture — Company positioning

Understanding a company’s positioning in a market can help you define your positioning strategy more accurately, too. Positioning is a matter of expressing yourself and separating from others at the same time. The better you understand how they communicate their uniqueness, the better you can react and shape your messages accordingly.

If you know how other market players position themselves, you can define your positioning according to your strengths and other market players’ weaknesses.

Who do they look for — Job vacancies

This one is easy. In many cases, job offerings reflect significant strategy changes. However, this might be a pretty weak indicator and is not my first recommendation. This information can support other aspects but will not stand alone. Job vacancies can be particularly helpful if you want to observe a market player’s HR strategy.

What others think — Referral sites

Information from referral sites can be useful to challenge the messages companies’ communications departments spread. Are you looking for weaknesses and honest reviews? You gain independent insights right here.

But you have to be careful: Many referral sites are not neutral and offer paid placements. Try to find out if the feedback you find is independent. Also, keep in mind that disappointed users and former employees tend to be negative in their feedback. So don’t expect to see an average opinion. But often, there is some truth in the feedback that can still serve you.

Checking independent referral sources can provide a valuable outside view of other market players.

Look at the past — The player’s history

This section is a quick win if you keep it simple. Identify the significant stages in the players’ history and put them on a timeline. That can help you understand what shaped the organizations’ development. Did acquisitions, inventions, or investments influence it? Seeing the driving forces behind an organization can help you evaluate the market player with a deeper understanding.

What’s up — The timeline

While a player’s history is a look back in time, the timeline focuses on what’s going on now. However, I recommend covering only the most relevant steps in an organization’s history to explain the status quo. The timeline’s purpose is to track current developments by attaching them to a timeline. The measuring stick for deciding what’s relevant is — once again — your set of goals. Only put on the timeline what you consider essential for future decisions.

The timeline turns your static profile into a dynamic one. Make sure to keep your profile’s timeline updated to grow your Market Map’s value over time.

It’s up to you: Learn more or apply your knowledge

Do you want to learn more?

Collecting and organizing market player information is the second important step on your way to a market mapping pro. If you want to discover the other steps, check out my other articles on this topic.

Step 1: Identify the goals you want to support

Step 2: This step :-)

Step 3: Products and services on the market

Step 4: Watch those who influence the market

Step 5: What are they talking about?

Do you want to apply your knowledge right away?

After going through the list, you should understand the value of a Market Map for your business. It can deliver valuable information about the different market players that are relevant for your future decisions.

Make sure to use only the categories you need. You can also start with a small set of aspects and add more after getting used to maintaining your market map. Keep it handy to get going and elaborate your Market Map over time. That will save you time and increase your efficiency.

Let me know how it works for you in the comments.

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Karsten Richter

Karsten Richter

Together with my team, we help professionals become confident decision-makers and recognized market experts through Market Mapping at picasi.com.