Most people are lazy. They won't do anything other than daydream about becoming your competition.
Next point: if the barrier to entry to your marketplace is low, then it's all about selling. Rather than focusing on features or what you do ("We make websites"; who cares?), start talking about serious problems your solution fixes for your customers. Things like:
> reduced waste/rework
> minimized project times
> lowered interpersonal struggles
> shrunk sales cycle
> sped-up time to profitability on new products.
When you concentrate on these ideas, you differentiate yourself and move out of being a commodity provider.
I believe you answered your own question. Do the research or what we commonly call due diligence. More importantly, make sure you have a competitive advantage. The best competitive advantage...solving your clients problems faster, easier, and quicker than anyone else in your market space.
I'd need a few more specifics to say (especially around your industry, whether or not you're already established, etc.), but-
It usually comes down to reputation and relationships. I'm assuming that this is some sort of service business (consulting or information management? I'm not sure what else would have 'research' as the only barrier to entry.)
The key is to not make your product a commodity. Differentiate it. Make sure you're providing a quality product, and that your clients/customers are receiving value for their cost. If it's worth it to them, they'll come back.
Make sure you focus on their experience, make it a good one, and don't give them a reason to look at your competitors.