Know Your Market: Building a Competitor Profile

Let’s look at building a competitor profile based on your opportunity pipeline. When assessing your initial pipeline and determining likely competitors, you need to identify opportunities that are likely to draw competition from the same or similar companies.

by Kyle Green

Here are six tips on how to build your competitor profile:

  1. Identify Their Resources. Determine as much as you can about a company’s available resources, both internal and external. Knowing their resources can tell you a lot about their strategy. Do they have a robust overhead structure? What is the profile of their employee base? Do they tend to subcontract or prime? What is the history of the current business development team? How do they represent themselves in in their marketing and sales material? Answering these questions will provide significant details into their management and costing strategies.
  2. Profile Their Current Contracts. It is essential to identify a competitors’ current sales to Government and non-Government customers. Are they currently working for your perspective customer base? How much of the overall market do these figures represent?
  3. Examine Their Marketing Schemes. What targets are your competitors currently marketing to (e.g. website, prime, social media)? Is their target market at odds with your current or target market? Are they planning on expanding? What is their market growth strategy? How do they price their products or services?
  4. Identify Their Differentiator. Does your competitor tout a unique or differentiating product, process, or service? Some companies place a flashy title on a standard agile, Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), or Project Management Professional (PMP®) type process and call it proprietary. Others have invested significant time and money developing a unique process with detailed outcomes. It is important to assess this purported differentiator to determine how you can react to and counter any perceived or actually unique features.
  5. Identify the Low Bidder. Some companies are known to consistently offer at the lowest price technically acceptable, even on non-price determinate evaluation matrices. Determine how these companies can offer lower costs; do they operate lean, do they place heavier burden on employees within their benefits packages, do they typically work in low-margin work, do they routinely engage in greening their workforce to suppress costs. Once you have determined their approach, you can counter-act it by either directly competing on cost or using your proposal to demonstrate the significant risk of their approach to the government.
  6. Identify the Niche Bidder. Some companies use a niche market as their strategy. Does a competitor only have experience in a certain aspect of a set of opportunities? Are they implementing a strategy to expand into a broader market? What type of teaming strategy will be needed to provide a full scoped response to a given opportunity? If you can identify the niche bidder early, you may have the chance to bring them on to your team. If they are not looking to team for a particular opportunity, you can learn a significant amount from studying their approach to similar opportunities.

These six factors will provide you a strong baseline for assessing your competition based on the vetted opportunities in your pipeline. As you continue to expand your process, consider other factors that are important to your organization’s decision-making processes and identify the resources necessary to capture additional competitive intelligence information.

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Published on April 30, 2020 by

Dick Eassom, CF APMP Fellow