Competitive Analysis: Education Company Dos and Don’ts
Successful K-12 education products and services are successful in part because they offer something different. They provide educators with something they can’t get with other options in the market.
What should that something different be? That’s where competitive analysis comes into play. Done well, it can do three things:
Inform your strategy. Knowing what’s in the market and—more importantly—what’s missing, can point you in the right direction.
Shape your product or service. Deeply understanding the current options can help you create a much-needed solution.
Guide your communications. Understanding what makes your product or service different can boost your messaging and marketing efforts.
So, let’s dive into a few key dos and don’ts for well-done competitive analysis.
Don’t: Wait Until You’re Going to Market
Would you ever make a long-distance drive and not look at the map until the “end” of your trip? How would you know where you were going?
Waiting until a new product or service is going on the market to do competitive analysis means missing out on key insights. Don’t make this step an afterthought, or a way to “check the box” for your marketing team.
Start looking at competitors as early as possible. Make this step part of your strategic planning.
Then, make competitor analysis part of your development process. As you move through development stages, it’s helpful to revisit competitors. Competitor products and services may have evolved, so you’ll want to study how. New competitors may have come on the market, and you’ll want to analyze those.
Do: Identify Direct Competitors and Aligned Competitors
Some competitors are in direct competition. These are the options educators may consider to Summer school arts program vs. summer school arts program. Professional development platform vs. professional development platform. Family engagement resource vs. family engagement resource.
Some competitors are aligned, meaning two things: 1) Your product or service must work well with the aligned competitor in some way; and 2) Your product or service adds something that the aligned competitor does not.
For example…Summer school arts program vs. summer school literacy program. Because they’ll be used in the same setting, they’ll likely need to be compatible in some way.
Do: Identify Competitors’ Strengths & Gaps
We like to think our product or service is the best. (And, the goal is to make that true for your ideal customers!)
Knowing competitors’ strengths and weaknesses can help us see…Where there are strengths, do we want to match those strengths? Where there are gaps, how can we solve these in our product or service?
And, our analysis can be more effective when we look beyond things like features, components, and price. We can look at important elements such as ease of use, flexibility, and how engaging the content is for students.