When it comes to business, Sales, and any other profiteering activity people always say "You gotta be one step ahead the competition" and "Know your enemy". I however think sometimes this isn't true, and I'm going to tell you why, before the world ends and everybody hunts me down for blasphemy...
As avid readers will know when I first started making gold, it was a way of playing WOW with a small amount of time, that still challenged me. Initially I was invested in one market, Jewlcrafting, specifically the Inferno Ruby and Meta gems. Whilst "playing" this one market I had maybe 2-3 major competitors who I got to know, learnt the styles of, and in one case had an understanding with (not a formal alliance, more of a we both wanna make profit lets keep civil, unwritten rule).
I happily plodded along with my single market, and my few competitors easy to keep an eye on, and not too great a drain on my time. However as I moved into more and more markets, and more and more players started moving into my current markets, it took greater chunks of my time to keep up. I found myself researching these players on The Undermine Journal, chatting to them, and watching their sales patterns and posting times.
This was an accepted precedent of gold makers, and something most blogs talked about; whether it be tracking competition x-faction (Monitor Your Competition's Cross Faction Trading Activities (And Stop Them)); or just keeping track of where they are(Marking your competition (literally))
The time I spent monitoring other players started to increase to a level I was not happy with, and this got me thinking was all this snooping necessary?
I sat and made some conclusions about my game time, and which competitors where really effecting my game play. This left me with some conclusions to which markets where worth monitoring, and which I would always price my way no matter the competition. But was this way of thinking beneficial? Did other gold makers monitor everyone?
I spoke to Alto of Alto's Goldish Advice to get a second opinion, this is how our chat went:
Gimp: Is it always worth knowing your competition
Alto:Oh yea definitively! You can look at it a couple different ways though. There's knowing your competition, and then there's monitoring them.
When it comes to niche markets, TCG mounts/pets/etc, Rare Mounts, and other one-off items competition doesn't matter as much. Yeah it might be worth knowing that a player is selling it, but i don't focus on this. I don't care what his price is, I'm gonna sell mine at my price when I'm ready.
But when you look at regular markets Alchemy/Enchants/etc, I wanna know who is posting? When they post? Are they a raider? Are they a PVP player? and anything else that allows me to get an edge on them.
Now Alto has pretty much summarized the conclusions I came to, but how can this help you?
Ok so lets take a look at the markets of WoW and list in a simplified way between consistent and niche market types:
(this is not a complete list and simply for example use)
- Consumables Market (Mainly Alchemy)
- Enhancements Markets (Gems, Enchants, Belt buckles, Bags, etc)
- Raw materials
- Vendor Goods
- Quest Items (I see these as a niche as they tend to be smaller markets with very low competition)
- Vanity Items
If we look at the Consistent markets, these are items posted multiple times a day by multiple players, with a high demand. This leads to "price wars" and a-lot of undercutting and competition. however the Niche market has much lower competition, and thus prices are usually higher and have much less chance of undercutting, but still have a good demand.
So based upon this simple idea take some time, consider your markets and ask yourself "Do I spend more time than necessary watching competitors, that are within my Niche markets?"
I assess myself this way regularly (just as I do to make sure I'm not to addon dependent), and if it becomes apparent that too much time is begin spent on a specific niche market, I step back and spend the time elsewhere.
So take some time and assess your markets and competition? Remember efficiency is key!