What are the advantages of knowing your top competitors 3 year business plan?
Every business needs a documented plan to help focus its direction, outline operations, and secure investors. The question here is not whether to have a business plan or not nor is it how to acquire a competitor's business plan as many public corporations maintain transparency via prospectus detailing business operations, product and service enhancements, marketing campaign results and projected financial performance. Market analysis can reveal a lot about competitors in that market. Competitor analysis can be found simply by downloading documents from online business plan archives. My question has more to do with the advantages of having that foreknowledge at hand. Obviously, there are pros and cons to creating competitive marketing strategies based on competitor analysis.
The advantage is that you can learn where they are concentrating and whether you can meet or exceed their strengths and capitalize on their weaknesses. Be careful because they may or may not be on the mark. Their perceptions could be incorrect and if they have a budget that exceeds yours you may need to focus your efforts where your strengths exceed theirs.
An excellent question Mark. To answer simply - the No 1 pro - Having a general understanding of your competitors' intentions will enable you either to pre-empt their strategy or select a path that they are not addressing. This allows you to compete more effectively with the $ you do have.
The con - your competitors may be going up the same blind alley you are as you may all have the same biases about your industry and market. By focusing on them you may not see new opportunities.
Lead, don't follow. Let your competitors follow you.
The obvious advantage of knowing your competitors 3 year business plan is that it allows you to adjust to what they are doing. That may be ziging when they are zaging or it may be to try to zig before they do but if you know what they are doing you can adjust your own business plans.
That said I don't think the odds of getting your competitors business plans are very likely. Public corporations may have some generalities in information they release and there can always be some leaks but I would expect most companies to consider that information to be top secret.
I just know that we keep our plans secret. Even some of my key employees don't know everything in the plans other than what they need to know or what I care to share.
I would imagine that knowledge could help you to know how they intend to differentiate themselves from you/their competition. It also should show the direction they are taking. This kind of information would help you to develop your own plan and a marketing / sales strategy.