The approach: draw a simple X/Y grid.
Every available alternative can be plotted on the map. All online retailers on the internet. All the areas of advice for financial planning. All the running shoes in a sports shop. (We’re not identifying them as competitors yet, and you’ll see why.)
Create two axis. One is arranged horizontally (X) and the other vertically (Y).
For each axis, pick a dimension that is meaningful to your stakeholder. It could be something like quality, speed, price, accuracy, performance, utility, or efficacy.
For example, there are at least four ways to get a slice of pizza in your hand. For one dimension we have convenience, and for the other we have healthfulness. Of course, both your favourite pizzeria and you yourself can happily make a pizza, but one will take some effort and the other will be prepared for you.
If you care less about healthfulness, a delivery from the local takeaway pizza restaurant is even faster. And if you care less about convenience and healthfulness, then you can go and buy a frozen pizza at the nearest supermarket and put it in the oven yourself.
The magic of the X/Y map is that it clarifies that each alternative might be an option, depending on who you seek to serve. Can you see how this matrix would be totally different if an axis were changed to taste, price, cooking method, or variety?
The same approach can work for online delivery (speed, security, reliability, careful handling, tracking, cost, etc.) or for Target, Zara, and Paul Smith (price, range, quality, status). Or a craft brewery and a wine fine. Or perhaps Capitec Bank, Prudential Assurance, and Goldman Sachs.
We’re not so much interested in features as we are in the benefits that those features promise.