Building in a Competitive Market: How to Use Market Research to Your Advantage

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Mar 9, 2016 | Marketing & Branding

What is one constant we can always rely on – besides taxes? Competition within business. Even if you manage to come up with a completely new, innovative service or product, it’s only a matter of time before someone comes along to challenge your offering. Staying on top of what’s happening in your industry is a crucial part of remaining relevant.

In the senior living world, you know that competition is constantly nipping at your heels. There’s a lot of pressure to stay at the forefront of the industry and to always be thinking about what might come next. If you’re thinking about building or opening a new community in particular, it’s critical to examine the market to understand what kind of competition you’re facing. Knowing what’s out there can be the difference between long-term success and premature closure.

“Building in a competitive market can be intimidating, but one way to face that fear is to do your due diligence,” says Malissa Illiano, Senior Consultant & Director of Market Research at SageAge Strategies. “By researching the competition, you’ll have a thorough understanding of what’s needed in your target market, as well as what’s not, and how you can offer something that is different from the rest.”

Let’s take a look at why market research is such a crucial piece of a sound business strategy, and how you can use it to your advantage when operating in a competitive market.

Why Market Research Is Worth Your Time

Yes, I know – another thing to do, right? But market research isn’t just “one more item” for your to-do list. It can be a cornerstone of an effective business and marketing strategy. Here’s why!

  1. It helps you prioritize. If you’re busy (and I’m sure you are!), you know that constantly trying to keep the balance of accomplishing everything that needs doing – and getting it done on time – is a struggle. Market research can help you identify and separate what things really should be prioritized and what might be worth pushing to the backburner for a bit. When done properly, market research tells you what is most important to your prospective customers, and thus, what’s most important to you.

  2. It keeps you looking forward. Any good business leader knows that we must adapt to survive. Conducting thorough and regular research ensures we are staying current on best practices and trends, and are always looking to the future rather than remaining stagnant.

  3. It empowers you to make better decisions. It’s shockingly common for business leaders to make decisions based on their personal opinions and gut feelings. That’s not always a bad thing, but when it comes to business-wide decisions with far-reaching implications, a safer and more effective decision-making strategy is to base decisions on research. Market research gives you the information you need to make sound, supported decisions.

Now that we understand some of the undeniable benefits of market research, let’s look at how you can get started doing some research in a competitive market.

Tips for Conducting Market Research in a Competitive Market

Conducting competitive market research can be quite a serious job, so it’s important to break it down.

  1. First, create a framework. You may know the name of your competition, but do you truly know who they are? Create a systematic form that includes information on each of your competitors’ key selling points, differentiators, weaknesses and basic value proposition. It’s one thing to know their name, it’s quite another to identify these key metrics. This framework should be easily updated, as your competition will change and evolve over time. Staying on top of things is important!

  2. Find out what others are saying about the competition. A great way to dive into this is to set up Google Alerts for your competitors. That way, you’ll be alerted any time they are mentioned in the news or in other blogs. Knowing how the community and their own customers view them is invaluable knowledge. Take a look at their social media platforms – are they active and buzzing or covered in cobwebs? If active – what is everyone talking about? Knowing that a certain community gets a ton of “buzz” about its Wellness or Memory Care programs can help guide your decisions about those features for your community.

  3. Do some mystery shopping. Understanding how your competition interacts with its prospective customers is very telling. You can sign up for their newsletter, look at their brochures, talk to a sales representative – all of these activities provide you insight into what techniques they are using, what’s working and what falls flat.

  4. Research those who have come before you. Did another community try to open a few years ago in the same area and never get off the ground? Did a community recently close or cancel a certain program or offering? Learn from their mistakes! Likewise, find out who is really crushing it in the senior living world within your marketplace. What seems to be their most effective strategies for growth and relevancy? Learn from their successes.

By understanding your competition, knowing the historical as well as current landscape you might be operating in and listening to your competition’s customers, you can get a good handle on the things your community will need to do in order to become and remain viable. Thorough market research can be a time-consuming process, but SageAge has the experience and team to get it done. Talk to us today about better understanding your competitive landscape!

SageAge Strategies is a multiple award-winning, strategic growth and marketing organization that provides multiple strategic growth solutions. For more information, please call or e-mail Malissa Illiano at 717-695-6740 / malissa@sageagestrategies.com.

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