Once an idea is keeping me up at night, the next step is to do a competitive analysis.
And yes, no matter how great your idea, you do have competitors. For a website you might consider a competitor any one that is in your space (ie. search, social media, blogging, etc.) or you might consider it as any site that competes with you for revenue. If you can’t think of any competitors, it might be that you don’t have a market it all.
I tend to make a competitor matrix using Excel or another spreadsheet type document. Across the top, I list all the competitors. And down the side, I list all the features, then the revenue model, investors, and other info. I typically sign-up for the competitor services, and try it out to make the feature list. Some of the things I look at:
- what are the steps to register for the service
- what types of information are they capturing
- what are the payment options, payment methods, pricing levels
- what features does the site have once you’re a member
- how do they support members (customer service)
- how do they make money
- how were they funded
- how much funding did they receive
- what do you like about their site
- what do you not like about their site
Yes, this is time consuming; but, the feature matrix is going to help you down the line, when you’re defining your requirements to the web design and programming staff.
Once you’ve got a thorough understanding of your competitors, you can start thinking about how to differentiate your site from their site.
Question: What is your “special sauce”?