The tactical elements of the legendary Sun Tzu are tailored to the business and broken down to help you gain a competitive edge over your competition. This article specifically covers the use of Sun Tzu principles to outwit your competitors by applying deception and using foreknowledge. Learn tactics, how to apply it, and how it can help you grow and strengthen your online presence as well as your overall business.

What is foreknowledge from a business strategy perspective ?: Foreknowledge is the first understanding and understanding of what your competitor is about, his strengths, weaknesses, plans and people.

How to gain foreknowledge ?: Competitive analysis is a field in the business dedicated to helping you gain foreknowledge.

Know your competition:

  • Understand their strengths, weaknesses, abilities, limitations, and so on.
  • Check the financial results How many employees do they have? What products do they offer? In what markets is competition active?
  • Buy products from competitors and dissect them – how much do you think it costs to build? How fast can I make a product? What areas for improvement are there? Why is it made as it is and positioned as it is?

Building the basics:

  • Take these basic elements of what a company does, how they do it, how effectively they do it, and add a deeper level of understanding based on first-hand intelligence.
  • Review their ads and marketing campaigns.
  • What does the press say about your competition?
  • What do consumers say about them?
  • Review their past behavior to understand how they react in different situations.
  • Analyze the main people working in a competitor’s store – Where did they come from? What kind of expertise do they have? Where do they get their information? What are their ambitions?
  • Check out strategic alliances – who do they partner with? Who do they work closely with? How is the relationship displayed in public? What services are used?

Get to know yourself:

  • Learn your strengths, weaknesses, limitations and opportunities.
  • Fully examine your situation quantitatively and qualitatively.
  • Match who you are and what your strategy is for your competitors – What are the areas of weakness in your competitors? In your self?
  • Know your customers and why they buy from you.
  • Study your strongest deals and your weakest ones, identify your opportunities and threats. How does the media talk about you? How are your customers looking at you? How does your competition look at you?

Know your market:

  • What are your markets?
  • How fast are these markets growing or shrinking?
  • What industry forces exist in each market (see Porter’s Five Forces)?
  • Build a strong infrastructure and plan to constantly monitor your market – learn to anticipate changes Learn about your target market (demographics, preferences, buying styles, price sensitivity, level and style of social activity, etc.)

Call it a hoax:

  • Guardian information given to journalists or used in social situations.
  • Take a look at opportunities to lead anxious listeners down a path you do not intend to take.
  • Don’t show all your strengths, look for opportunities to use undervalued strength.
  • Be ethical – keep a moral high ground in the fraud field and gain the trust of your market.
  • Build trust with your customers through good solid business activities and save deception for competitors who are predominantly studying for you.

Internet specifics:

  • How does your competitor use the Internet?
  • How do they broadcast their message?
  • Is the web area strong or the area where you can attack the weakness?
  • What product offerings do they have online?
  • How much traffic do they get? Where do they get it from?
  • How well do they convert? What pages do they own?
  • What key phrases are they targeting?
  • Do they use PPC or other paid marketing campaigns?
  • How reliable are they online? Are they unique in what or how they offer their service / product?



by Steven T McDonald

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