Adapted from Michael Porter
What industry are we in? Specify any particular market niche in which you focus.
Who are our competitors in that market niche (arena)?
How do we compare to our competition? Consider factors such as current market share, product/services mix, price, delivery, quality, value-added services, sales and distribution channels, technology, ease of doing business.
What major external trends are/will be affecting your arena? Consider economic, political, social/cultural, demographic, technological, geographic, and environmental.
Which of these trends will pose opportunities and which will pose problems for the players in your arena?
Identify current customers in market niche. How might their needs change over the next few years? Consider how their changing needs will affect you and your competitors in terms of products, price, quality, etc.
Identify potential customers or markets who currently do not buy from you or your competitors. How might their needs change over the next few years that could affect you and your competitors?
Identify current vendors/providers who supply you and your competitors. How might they change over the next few years? Consider how their changes will affect you and your competitors in terms of raw materials, labor, quality, response time, costs, etc.
Identify potential vendors/providers who you and your competitors currently do not buy from at all or in significant quantity. What changes might occur over the next few years that could affect how and who you and your competitors depend on?
Barriers to Entry
Consider how easy or difficult it is for a new competitor to enter the arena. What makes it easy or difficult? What strategies could you employ to make it easier or harder? Who is/might be on the horizon that could soon enter your arena and with what effect?
Hardest question: What could possibly happen in your market niche that would drastically shift the current way business is done? What could wipe out the market niche you target? What products or services could possibly erase the need for what you provide?
Write a current positioning statement. It should answer the following questions:
What business are we in? or What problem(s) do we solve?
What/where is our customer base now?
With whom do we compete?
What are our core competencies (process, product, other)?
In which of the following areas are we as strong or stronger than our competition: marketing, technology, organization, people, capital?
How do we differentiate ourselves from our competitors?
Why are those strengths and our difference important to our customers?
What unique benefits do our customers derive from doing business with us?
Now, write another positioning statement for how you plan to answer these questions in the future.