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Indirect Competitors 101: What They Are + How to Keep an Eye On Them

Your company has two kinds of competitors: direct and indirect. You know the former. Those are the competitors that your sales team goes head-to-head with every single day.

Meanwhile, an indirect competitor can be one of two things:

πŸ‘‰ A company that sells the same thing as your company, but to a different audience (ex: Squarespace and Drupal)
πŸ‘‰ A company that sells to the same audience as your company, but with a different product (ex: BuzzSumo and Jasper AI)

In either case, an indirect competitor does not pose a significant threat to your company's revenue right now ... but that can change very quickly. Here are some things to keep an eye on:

πŸ‘€ Content marketing. Are they creating content targeted at your audience? If Squarespace starts creating content targeted at developers, Drupal should be on high alert.
πŸ‘€ Events. Are they sponsoring events targeted at your audience? If Squarespace starts sponsoring events targeted at developers, Drupal should be on high alert.
πŸ‘€ Executive hires. Have they hired anyone with deep experience in your space? If BuzzSumo hires a GenAI expert to help lead their product team, Jasper should be on high alert.

If you suspect an indirect competitor is about to become a direct competitor, do the following:

βœ… Notify your sales and marketing leaders. It's never too soon to start talking about how you're going to position yourself against this new direct competitor.
βœ… Put yourself in the other company's shoes. If you were them, how would you position against your company?
βœ… Watch 'em like a hawk. If your hunch is correct, there will be more cluesβ€”and each one will make it easier for you to prepare.

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I hope this was helpful. If it was, I suggest learning the basics of analysis of competing hypotheses.

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Conor Bond
Conor Bond is on the marketing team at Crayon. If, for whatever reason, you were to rip his headphones off his head and put them on yourself, you’d probably hear Weakened Friends or Charli XCX.
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