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International competitors: how to scope them out and compete

Rule number one in business is to understand your competition and become familiar with your competitor. But how do you do that with international competitors?

international competitors

international competitors

Winning in business by competing globally

Understanding one’s competition is the key to winning anything. Winning business is no different. In order to be first to market, reach untapped markets or just offer something better than the last guy, you have to know who the competition is and what/how they’re selling.

Knowing how to identify your direct (and indirect) competitors is crucial for any business owner. At its essence, identifying your competition would mean no more than outlining who sells similar products/services as you. owever, once you begin to branch out into the international business world, that can become unclear.

Three key steps in identifying international competitors

These are the steps I tell my clients to follow when identifying international competitors.

1. Start local. Make a list of all the products and services you offer and try to identify three to five companies or people who offer something similar. Once identified, sign up for their newsletters and mailings. Go through their sales cycle to understand how they sell and what competitive advantages they have.

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2. Branch out. Identify complements or substitutes for your product/service. Once you have identified local competitors, research them to discover their international competitors. Find out who they do business with. Connect with local universities and groups that have shared interests. They will be grest network connections.

3. Go global. Twitter, Meetup, and Facebook are great tools to scope out local and global competitors. Get connected to international social media sites as well (like the Chinese video sites I’ve outlined previously). Getting involved in international groups such as Rotary will also prove beneficial.

12 questions about international competitors

A few key questions to ask yourself about each competitor you identify:

  • Who are they really? What do they stand for? What sets them apart?
  • Why do your potential customers buy from them? What would make them become your loyal customers?
  • What types of offerings do they have?
  • What is the real value-add of their product or service? Is it unique to them? Or can it be replicated and improved upon?
  • How do they price their products or services? How do your prices compare?
  • Does their model only work in their country of business or could it be retrofitted to work in another country?

Knowing your competition actually helps you, as that knowledge allows you to better understand pricing, customer motives for purchases ,and marketing strategies that do or don’t work. Don’t see getting to know your competition as a necessary evil, but as a free lesson on what the international market will bear.

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Written By

Monica Moffitt, founder and Principal Cultural Consultant at Tianfen Consulting, Inc., has traveled the world and enjoys linguistics and all things culture. Having split her career between project management and business analytics, Monica merges logic, fluency in Chinese and creativity in her new role as cultural consultant. She received a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies/Chinese from Vanderbilt University and a Master of Business Administration (International Management and Marketing) from University of Texas at Dallas.

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