“In order to prioritize competitors and figure out where you fit in the competitive landscape, you need a solid understanding of who you are.“
No, this is not a philosophical statement.
What Mindy Regnell wants to drive home is that without a firm grasp of your own’s company fit in the market, you can’t effectively prioritize — or compete against — your competition.
It starts with knowing your ICP.
While your ICP, the verticals and geographies you target will evolve as your company grows, lacking clarity of purpose from the beginning will make prioritizing your competitors infinitely difficult.
“Who you are and who you serve may change, but having that deep understanding of who you are to start out with is important.”
Mindy calls this her “unpopular opinion”.
But after more than a decade in the highly competitive world of e-commerce, it’s one of the most crucial lessons she has to share.
“Bucketing competitors helps categorize competitors; finding similiarities and differences.”
Tiering your competitors based on their threat level to your business starts with understanding the categories in which they’ll compete against you.
“There are advantages and disadvantages to any way you build a product. It’s about understanding your strengths and weaknesses; and spinning the narrative around those weaknesses.”
Four of the most common buckets Mindy’s used in the past are:
1️⃣ – Technology (in e-commerce, that usually means open-source, SaaS, or headless)
2️⃣ – Philosophical (useful when competitors have similar features, but a different way of viewing the market)
3️⃣ – Best of breed vs All in one (flexibility of customization versus a one-stop-shop)
4️⃣ – Market scope (jack of all trades and master of none, or narrow scope by highly effective)
Once you determine in which bucket your competitor sits, you can start to build differentiation messaging to deposition them.
“The most competitors I’ve ever actively tried to maintain is seven. And that was miserable.”
Who your biggest competitors are at any given time can vary.
Your number one competitor is generally the one you come up against most in competitive deals.
But as markets shift, you may notice a new competitor is gaining steam and needs to be re-prioritized to a higher tier of competition.
The key takeaway here is to not spread yourself too thin. And to focus the bulk of your competitive efforts on the big guys.
“I’m a firm believer in leaning in and focusing. So I build out two or three very deep, detailed battlecards for two of my biggest competitors.”
Now, whether or not you should build highly detailed battlecards is a matter of debate.
(We at Klue prefer battlecards to be practical and concise, with links to background information in different cards.)
But what isn’t up for debate is that a small team cannot be effective when trying to cover too much competitive ground.
So focus on your number one and two competitors, and make it count.
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