Desktop Publishing Tips: How To Analyze Dtp Competitors

Learn how to judge competition. When starting your own desktop publishing business, staying informed about other publishers.

When you are starting your own home-based desktop publishing business, it is absolutely essential that you familiarize yourself with your competitors. The information you gather about your competition will help you decide on our own business strategy, services, prices, and policies. You don't want to offer a one-week turnaround if everyone else is offering three days. Nor do you want to price yourself out of the market. But you might want to offer something entirely different from your competitors offer, and you may choose to structure your rates differently. But you can't make those decisions until you know about your competition. Understanding your competitors will allow you to decide if you want to do what everyone else is doing or something entirely different.

The first step in analyzing your competitors is to identify who they are. Examine the Yellow Pages and business-to-business directories in your geographical area. Besides desktop publishing, look under the listings for typesetting, printing, graphic design, writing services, word processing/typing/secretarial services, and computer services. Also check membership directories of professional and civic organizations, regional business newspapers and magazines, and daily and weekly newspapers. And don't forget to scout online to investigate other DTP services. Begin compiling a list of all of your competitors. Include for each listing the business name, address, phone numbers, and a contact name.

The next step in analyzing your competition is to find out specific information about each one of them. The easiest way to do this is to pose as a potential client and call each one. You should have a specific project in mind to discuss. Get as much information as possible about such things as hourly rates, turnaround time, and policies. Do not take up too much of their time or promise them a job, since you don't really have one for them. Now back to your list. Fill in all of the details you discovered in your undercover investigation. You should keep this information as updated as possible, going over it again every six to twelve months. Take not of who is still in business, who isn't, whose services have changed, and whose rates have changed. Also, you should constantly be on the lookout for new businesses entering the DTP field and add then to your list.

Another good way to find out information about your competition is through networking. You will have occasion to meet other business owners in the DTP field. Many businesses will freely share much of their information with you, although most will be rather reluctant to share rate and profitability information. Once you have established relationships with other DTP business owners, you should feel more comfortable simply calling then up to ask for general business information. At that point, you can drop the cloak and dagger routine.

Once you have made your list of competitors and gathered as much information as you possibly can about them, you can use that information to decide which services your business will offer. By knowing what your competitors are doing, you can decide if you will do what they are doing, or something entirely different. You will also have a much better idea as to what your rates should be.

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