If there’s one thing that people struggle with during an investor pitch or presentation, it has to be about how they discuss competition. Some people discuss competition only after they’ve discussed the problem, the product, and their go-to market plan. While this may be common, the problem with this approach is that you end up pitching yourself and the competitors on the same boat – as if you are all in the same race trying to solve the same issue. And that’s not a good idea if you’re trying to pitch a disruptive idea.
Over the years, we have helped countless innovators and their teams with marketing PowerPoint presentation designs. What set good ideas apart from the rest was definitely the way they identified and analyzed competition, along with clearly defining their competitive advantage. Some of the key takeaways from these presentations would include:
- Describe Your Competitors – Direct & Indirect
If you’re pitching an idea or product, you cannot afford to miss competitors – direct and indirect. Direct competitors are businesses that are doing what you do – you will be sharing the same target audience with them. Indirect competitors refer to businesses that connect with your target audience, but solve their problem in a different way. You could either hire an analyst to do the research for you. Or, search for them on Google!
- Describe Their Products In Detail – Strengths, Weakness & All
There’s a distinct difference in how Steve Jobs introduces a product and how others do it. He doesn’t just describe the competitors; instead, he elaborates on their shortcomings. Again, he doesn’t criticize them, but tells you what they lack. Steve very cleverly builds your expectations about what his product will deliver. He used this technique during three of his momentous presentations, viz. while introducing the iMac, the iPhone, and the iPad. He told you what other phones lacked and what the iPhone could deliver.
- Describe In Detail How You’re Different From The Rest
Again, taking a page out of Jobs’ style, have you ever in any presentation found him to single out a product for criticism. Comparing your product with others, may be the norm for others, but not for Steve. Rather, he talks about them as a group. According to him, all his competitors have some excellent features, but that’s not what he has envisioned for you as a user. They are a part of the problem that Steve’s product will solve. He helps you envision an ideal product, then tells you what’s lacking in the current products, and then slowly describes how his product has everything that others don’t – in short, the narrative isn’t about us v/s. them; instead, it’s about how Apple products can promise a better future.
- Describe Your Competitive Advantage:
Competitive advantage refers to an attribute that differentiates you from competitors and help you outperform them. It creates value for the customer and is generally difficult for others to duplicate. Competitive advantage could be anything – a technical advantage, economies of scale, or even logistics. Customer service cannot be considered competitive advantage because it’s easy for others to catch up and even overtake you. Determining what gives you an edge over others requires thorough analysis – you cannot understand your competitive advantage unless you know what others are good at. Once you have identified this, it’s time to explain it clearly to the investors.
There are several metrics that help establish your competitive advantage; pick the ones that can distinctly benefit your target audience in ways that other competitors cannot. It could be cost leadership (example, Wal-Mart), differentiation, innovation, or even people advantage. The Magic Quadrant by Gartner can be used if you have two metrics. This system graphically positions four leaders in your field; viz., the leaders, the visionaries, the niche players, and challengers. It helps you to quickly understand if competitors can meet the end user’s current and future demands. It also shows how they’re currently positioned and the strategies they use to establish their place. You also get to compare their strengths and weaknesses against yours.
If you have more than two metrics, use the Petal Diagram to explain competitive advantage. This method was first suggested by entrepreneur and author Steve Blank. Put your company in the center of the slide and surround it with different petals, with each petal explaining a different metric. Place your competitors in these petals depending on their distinguishing characteristic. This method helps you understand competitive advantage from a wide range of perspectives and know what type of customer you’re targeting.