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So you've got an idea, how do you research competition?


#1

So you’ve got an idea for a new product but aren’t sure whether it’s been done yet (and if so to what standard). What process do you use when researching existing competition?

Currently all I do is Google the relevant keywords but I always feel this is rather limited. There’s obviously asking people who you trust and may be in the know, but I’m curious to hear whether anyone uses any different research methods.


#2

I’m to big on researching competitors, however, if you’re in the phase where you don’t even know if there are competitors then it’s probably worth looking around. You don’t want to build a product with no competitors (generally).

I’d recommend talking with a bunch of potential customers. Most likely they’ll already know about alternatives via other channels you may not have access to. Industry magazines, trade shows, conferences, etc etc.


#3

Why do you think this is limited?

Are you targeting an industry that doesn’t use the internet for customer acquisition?


#4

Put yourself into the shoes of the person who has the pain you want to solve. What would they do? Where would they hang out? In what symptoms does the pain manifest? Google the symptoms and the pain.

If it’s a B2C idea, it’s very likely that there are forums and blog posts where they talk about the pain or the symptoms and what they do about it today.

Googling directly for the product is a good idea to find out whether someone else is offering the same thing using the same keywords you do (but you might miss those who describe the product using different terms).

Take this with a grain of salt, though - I’ve gone out to talk to people and haven’t regretted it in the slightest (people were able to point out a handful of related sites that I would have never found by plain googling) - but I’m not a serial entrepreneur or expert or anything. :slight_smile:


#5

Google as a tool has the ability to find all the competition out there. It’s more that I sometimes struggle to find the competition, possibly because it’s early in the development of the idea and I don’t understand it well enough or that the keywords I’m thinking of are different to those the competition uses (as @grumpi states).

The best way forwards seems to be a combination of Googling relevant keywords, talking to those you know who may know of any competition and then Googling the pain points to see what people are saying online.

I’ve been working on projects for years but realise in comparison to people on here I’m a novice so thought it worth asking the question as to whether I was missing out on other really useful methods of doing the early research.

It seems like it all comes down to Martin Jol’s fine words in the end. A couple of years ago I was walking through a park in Wimbledon, London and noticed him walking the other way, talking on the phone. As we passed the only words I heard him speak were “just Google it”. Well said Martin, well said.


#6

Agree with Ian that talking to customers is probably your best bet. For me as I was growing my customer base, one of the issues was that I didn’t really know what my customers thought of the other competitors out there.

There was a time when I was constantly worried about certain free alternatives. But as I talked to more and more customers, I saw that they didn’t really take that alternative seriously in the first place. So I ended up thinking about it less and less.

Also there were competitors on the higher end that I thought I had no chance to compete with. But then I had a customer switch from them to me.

It takes time though. I know you’re doing one project per month so I think it will be tough to really talk to customers in a different audience every month.

Actually, speaking of which, if I were you is think seriously of launching products to the same audience every month. That way you’re building up a consistent audience (and learning about that audience) even if your products may not last forever.


#7

Yeah that makes sense. Talk to potential customers and see whether they know about any competition. If they do then find out a bit more about how they view it.

Regarding the six months six projects thing I’m doing at the mo, you’re right, it does severely limit the ability to interact with a specific audience. To start with that’s fine as our aim is less to build a tool that’s used by thousands and more to just build the tool. I acknowledge that this is only a tiny part of successful bootstrapping but you have to start somewhere. As we progress towards the end of the six months my hope is that we’ll be able to do more around marketing to our target audience, but we’ll take it one step at a time. My question was less about my current scenario and more about that killer idea you have, how to best go about researching the market.

I appreciate everyone’s thoughts on this.


#8

Word. Applaud you on your efforts to kind of pivot your approach to launching. Hope it goes well for ya!

If you’re just asking about how best to research competition for a killer idea - then dive deep into the community / customer base. Get to know them. Live and breathe that community. Talk to customers.


#9

Thanks @kalenjordan, appreciate it.

You’re right, Google around and talk to the target audience. Seems like the two pronged attack to go with.