Recognizing competitors

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The initial step in examining your competitors consists of knowing who or what they are. You can start upon this by studying a list of some competitors functioning in your sector.

Take necessary help from the web to widen this list. Who will be your competitor on the internet? All competitors whom you know in the offline world may make their presence felt online. In addition however, there may be some fresh competitors. In case you have a local business, you may have to compete with national outfits.

You have to widen your thought now. Give a thought to user requirement you want to focus upon. What are the other sources visitors will look up to while trying to address this requirement? You can kick off by having a look at the online directories, such as Yahoo. Their various categories based on hierarchy will allow you to have an idea of other operating sites in your section. Give extra focus to competitors advertising in these regions or whose functionality is emphasized within the portal. Chances for such competitors to be of significance to you are high. Other competitors who are engaging themselves to the limit may also be your significant competitors.

Search engines offer another easy mechanism. You have to carry out a search on the important keywords for your site. The advertisements and the inventory will help you to identify your likely partners and competitors.

You also need to keep an eye on honchos, such as Amazon, Microsoft etc with respect to their activities. A competition with such big guys can prove to be fatal. However, a tie-up with them could act as a boon

Where do competitors emerge from?

  • Competition on the web often springs up from unpredictable sources. 2 methods for competition to spring up
  • Vertical competition emerges from sites offering more than one services associated to a single topic.
  • Horizontal competition emerges from sites offering a one service attached to more than one topic or product categories.

Many sites begin on a small scale, following which they expand horizontally or vertically with respect to time. For instance, Amazon kicked off as a book store and expanding horizontally by roping in other product categories, such as CDs, software, toys etc. On the other hand, Babycenter expanded in the vertical direction-it started off a resource of information for new and anticipating parents and then moved on to include both community features and an outlet with the passage of time.

Where to search for your competitors?

  • Are you unable to identify your competitors? If yes, then look for them here
  • Yahoo. Visit Yahoo or other directories and have a look at the sites that are listed in your section.
  • Search engine. Carry out a search with the keywords associated to your site. Have a look at both the advertisements and the inventory of the sites News stand. Get hold of magazines, books and TV shows associated to your site.
  • Look at the advertisements on the sites of your competitors (or your own). Also, have a look at important publications.
  • Visit Nielsen NetRatings or Media Metrix to know the revised industry ratings.
  • In case you find it expensive, research services such as Nielsen provide plenty of useful information. This service will help you to have an idea of the sites visited by your customers once they leave yours or provide you information of the sites having a user base that overlaps with yours.
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