It’s important for your mental health to try to avoid comparing yourself to other people: your circumstances are not theirs, and your triumphs and challenges need to be assessed on their own merits, not in comparison to someone else, especially when you only see the positive face they choose to show to the world, not the private chaos that may be thriving behind the scenes.
If you’re running a business, the reverse is true. Assessing your business’ success without taking into account the competitors crowding your market means you’re only seeing half the picture, and the context you’re missing is vital.
The Big Picture
While recognising the achievements you’ve made in building your revenue and profits is important, you need to place your business in the ecosystem of rival companies that are competing for the same customers. If you don’t know what your rivals are doing you can’t plan to avoid being swamped by them. Failing to spot that a smaller competitor is behaving like it’s received a big round of funding and is ramping up it’s marketing efforts could leave you cut off from your share of the market as they expand.
One of the ways you can gain the necessary perspective is to work with a market research firm. These agencies specialise in getting hard facts about the state of your market in general, and while surveying consumers is a big part of that, they can also engage in competitor research to give you some insight into what your rivals could be planning, based on their behaviour.
Indexing Your Brand
One of the most important services a market research agency can do for you is give you access to their ‘brand index’. This is a ranking of brands in a given industry or niche, assessed by the key indicators of ‘unprompted recall’, which is the extent to which customers can name brands in an industry from memory; purchase intention, or how likely they are to actually spend money with the brand; and net promoter score, which is how likely people are to recommend that brand to friends.
Taken together, this provides a measure of ‘brand equity’ – the real world value of your brand as a tool for turning consumers into customers. Placing your brand into this index, and watching how it changes over time (with monthly, quarterly or annual refreshes) shows you a measure of success that goes beyond the bottom line, and shows you how well your business is succeeding as a competitor in the market.