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The "Finding Competitors" Lesson is part of the full, Guide for Launching Your Next Big Idea course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Paul explains why identifying competitors and testing competitor products is beneficial early in the process. Assessing features, usability, and customer support will give you a better understanding of what you are up against. Analyzing the reach of the competition also provides insight into the type of investment required to establish yourself in the market.


Transcript from the "Finding Competitors" Lesson

>> And of course the other advantage of going niche is that although there may be competitors, if those competitors haven't gone as niche as you have, you now to that niche look even more valuable, right? Because your product is tailored specifically around them, and their specific needs. And that brings me on to competitors and finding out your competitors.

And first thing you do really whenever I have an idea is I find out, well who else has already done this? And there are loads of ways you can do it. It's not rocket It's science, and it doesn't even take very long, to be honest. I mean, I'm sure you could do it more thoroughly than this, but a reasonable good starting point is, well, you start with a simple keyword, [LAUGH] search, you Google it.

But then I find sites like product hunt and also G2. So these are reviews sites where people comment on these kinds of things. Pierspot is another one. So there's quite a few of them around. And you can just have a look on those sites and see whether you can find anything that's similar.

And then pay attention to what people are saying about those competitors as well on those sites because you get reviews and things which is great. Then of course, there's social media and there's forums. If you're hanging out in the places that your audience hangs out, they will mention products, right, and they will mention things.

And you can even ask in these kinds of places, do you know of a good product that does X because I could really do with it. And if X exists, then somebody often will kind of suggest something. Also, you can get access to a lot of industry reports.

A lot of sectors have industry reports that you can dig out. And they often mention the major players in the sector, so that's worth checking as well. The other thing I use is search engine optimization and search engine marketing tools as well. Because what you can do there is you can research into keywords that are around your product and service, and it often comes back with brand names as well.

And then you can go check out those brand names and see whether they are a similar competitor or not. Attending events is often good. If you can go to an event that is related to your audience, so let's say you're creating a Crocheting app. I don't know why crocheting, [LAUGH] jumped into my mind.

It's what my wife does. Let's say you're making a Crocheting app. Then there are crocheting meetups and there are even crocheting events and things like that, very much at my wheelhouse, but there you go. And it's worth going to those things cuz there's often sponsors and there's people with stands and all that kind of stuff, so you get to see what's in the industry.

And then, this should be without saying, but talk to your audience as well. And even if you are the audience, talk to other people that are the audience, because you do not have a encyclopedic knowledge of everything in your sector. Well, certainly I don't, there's so many apps these days that you just can't cover everything.

Couple of other places you can look for competitors, news and publications is another one that I look at a lot. So for example, there are tech blogs that that just highlight new startups and those kinds of things can be quite useful to look at as well. So once you've kind of found your competitors, then the next step is really to try out their offerings, see what they're actually like.

I'm not saying you need to try every competitor because you might be in a market with a lot of competitors, but certainly try the big boys and try the ones that you think are most similar to what you're gonna do, okay? And so as you begin to try and explore their offerings, you're looking at their features, you're looking at their usability.

I almost always drop them an email with a question so I can test their customer support. Because you can have a product that dominates the marketplace but if their customer support is terrible, that could differentiate you, that could be an advantage that you get. So all of this will give you a better understanding of what you're up against.

And be honest with yourself. It's very easy in this kinda scenario to just look at all their rubbish bits. Yeah, they don't do this very well and they don't do that very well it's human nature, right? But equally write a list of the things that you think they do really well as well.

Because otherwise you effectively delude yourself into thinking that, yes, I could definitely compete with Amazon, [LAUGH] can you? So yeah, do that a little bit. So you're trying the offering, but you also wanna pay attention to their reach, okay? Because even if they've got an inferior product, doesn't necessarily mean you can still compete with them because they might have a massive reach.

And what do I mean by reach? Well, I'm talking about look at their advertising. Are they paying for pay-per-click advertising? How often do they appear in pay-per-click advertising? Are they appearing on relevant websites? Do they buy lots of banner ads? Are they throwing money at it basically, which obviously you are gonna struggle to compete with unless you've got some, you know, money behind you.

Social is another thing to pay attention to. How many followers do they have on social media? And how often do they post? And how often do people reply to them? And is the sentiment positive or negative, all of that kind of thing. And there are tools out there like BuzzSumo or, which will help you do those kinds of things.

And that can be very useful because it will give you a sense of whether they're papering over weaknesses in their customer relationship with huge amounts of advertising cuz some organizations do that. And so there may be an opportunity to get in there, even if they're throwing a lot of money at it, because actually people don't, [LAUGH] like them very much, right?

And then the third thing is look at the media. How often they're mentioned on media sites. Have they got good PR going on? So back pay attention to all of that kind of stuff. Cuz I'll be honest with you, there have been many times in my experience where with that VPN, I said, I think you're gonna struggle to ever be anything more than a very niche offering for a very small audience.

Because the biggest players who just dominated they've got such big reach that I think you're gonna struggle to get any further. Yeah, go for it Mark.
>> Online, someone's asking, what about instances where the competitors offer a free option and have extremely large reach? And you're offering would have to be paid but also not tried and true.

Is there something that, you should look forward to say, I should shy the away from this market, or?
>> Yeah, so we're gonna talk more about pricing models later. So I won't get into that too much now. I mean, if I was confronted with a someone that offered a free option, had big venture capital backing and I was trying to bootstrap something up, if I'm honest in most cases I'd probably walk away.

And there's no shame in that, that's why we're doing this, this process, right? If we're just gonna conclude at the end of the time, we're gonna barrel on regardless, then why are we even bothering with market research? So a lot of the time I'd walk away there. The other option is you just go very niche in that and that you focus on doing something very specific for a very specific audience and you just do it very well.

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