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Differentiate yourself against the competition

You’ve discovered your customer archetypes, interviewed them, and tested your hypotheses against the insights you’ve gathered. To better understand where there are gaps in the market and how your business can best fill them, you first need to understand the current industry landscape. This exercise will give you a broad view of the industry landscape in which you operate. More specifically, it will show you opportunities in the market in order to refine your pitch and stand out against your competition. You will do this through research and analysis.

Stand out against the competition

Standing out against your competition is an iterative process of research and analysis. As you do research on your competition and clients, analyze your findings along the way. Your analysis will often lead you to more research.‍

This iterative process may seem like it has no clear ending point, so be careful to not get stuck in a rabbit hole. We suggest spending a maximum of 2 hours (doesn’t need to be in one sitting) on this exercise. You can always come back to it later.

Step 1: Research

You are on an information-gathering expedition to find who else is already operating in your industry space.‍

Go wide with your initial research, listing out the different services that already exist in this space. Some research tools you can use are Google, Google Images, industry publications, Slack channels, communities, and newsletters.

For our SAT tutor example, different services would be independent tutors, SAT prep classes, online courses, prep books, etc.

Roughly categorize the services you find into different industries, sectors, services, or whatever axes make the most sense. Use your workbook to organize your research.

Step 2: Analysis

Build out a map of the industry landscape from your research in step 1. Miro is an excellent tool for this, and we’ve included some examples of maps below. You don’t have to create this, but the purpose of it is to develop your own mental model. Creating your own mental model can help you visualize how you are different from your competitors.

As you dig into your analysis of your research and complete the chart in your workbook, consider the following:

  • Identify the industry spaces that are crowded (meaning, lots of existing competitors) and try to figure out why

  • Identify the industry spaces that are empty and try to figure out why

  • Are any competitors already solving the problems your customers identified? How well?

  • Do other services produce low-quality work?

  • Are competitors all ignoring a certain trend?

  • Do competitors all have the same background or work history?

  • Do others have long waitlists or minimum contract sizes?

  • How expensive are these options?

The outcome of conducting research and analysis is an informed perspective on existing offerings in the market and how you can create a service that is better than others. You can fold in the work you did on your customer archetypes and interviews to think through any disconnects between what customers are looking for and what is missing from the landscape to fulfill those needs.

In this lesson, the research and analysis you conducted on your competition will aid you in creating a Venn diagram of your unique skills that map onto your potential client's needs.‍

Example 1:

Example 2:

Example 3:

Feel free to create whatever categories you feel are relevant to your specific field. Start populating this as much as you can!

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