5 Ways For A Product Manager To Deal With New Competition

by drjim on July 28, 2014

When new competition shows up, product managers need to know how to get ahead

When new competition shows up, product managers need to know how to get ahead
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Just when everything is going your way as a product manager, that’s exactly when something always seems to go wrong. One of the most common things that can happen is a new competitor shows up. Customers that you thought were a “sure thing”, now want to take a little bit more time to check out what new guy is offering. Your product and its product development definition are under attack. What is a product manager to do?

5 Ways To Handle New Competition

When new competition to your product shows up, you are going to have to react. Do this well and you’ll have something to add to your product manager resume. Remember that they are the “new kid in town” and just because of that they will attract attention from your customers. How you react to their arrival is what is going to determine how successful you’ll be over time. Here are 5 things that you can do the handle a new competitor:

  1. Don’t Get Into A Price War: The last thing that you want to do is to drop the price of your product because your customers now have an alternative. If you do this, then you’ll make your product appear to be less valuable and you’ll not be able to raise your prices later on.
  2. Define Your Niche: You won’t be able to keep every customer – the competition will be able to pick some of them off. What you need to do is to take a very close look at what type of customer you serve better than anyone else. Double down on meeting this customer’s needs and become the only game in town for customers who are in your niche.
  3. Find The Competition’s Weaknesses: What do you do better than they do? Take the time to study your new competition. No matter how bright and shiny their product is, they will do some things well, and some things not so well. Identify where the gaps are and improve your product where they don’t do a good job.
  4. Uniqueness Sells: No matter how similar to your product the new competitor is, their product is NOT the same as yours. Take the time to identify where the differences are. Keep in mind that the difference may not be in the product, but rather in your company itself. Focus on telling your potential customers what makes your offering different and why it’s better for them.
  5. Don’t Bleed For Too Long: If lots of your customers start to select the new competitor over you, sit down and take a look at what is going on. Why are they selecting them and not you? You are going to have to make changes (staff, product, brand, location, etc.) Do this quickly so that you can minimize the damage that is done to your product.

What All Of This Means For You

The bad news about dealing with new competition when it shows up is that there is no quick fix. However, just because you are no longer the only provider of a solution to your customers is no reason to give up. Instead, you need to take action to deal with the new competitive threat. This should be a part of every product manager job description.

The one thing that you are not going to want to do is to get yourself into a price war with your new competition. Instead, take the time to identify what you do differently than they do. Become unique and fill in the gaps in your customer’s needs that the competition doesn’t take care of. Make sure that you are in the right business and consider looking for ways that you could work with the new competition.

The good news is that the arrival of a new competitor does not mean that the game is over. Rather, as a product manager you have just started a new chapter in the story of your product. How you respond to the new competition will determine how successful your product will be. Follow these 5 tips and you’ll be ready the next time a new product shows up in your town.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: What’s the best way to discover that there is a new competitor

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Product managers want their products to be successful. One big challenge that we all face is that the world is filled with competitors – companies that offer a product that solves the same customer problem that our product development definition solves. In order for our product to be successful, we’re going to have to find a way to deal with all of this competition.

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