Your business is one-of-a-kind, we know that. So then why did we write a blog about studying your competitors? Well, because even though your business is unique, you’re not the only one out there doing what you do. And turning a blind eye to what they’re doing makes it a lot harder to do it better. After all, proving that very thing to your customers is what marketing is all about.
Find out why knowing your competitors should be part of your marketing strategy, who those competitors really are, and how to use it to your advantage.
We’re not trying to be dramatic, but understanding your competitors is vital to your whole strategy. No, that doesn’t mean copying their strengths, but instead, learning from their successes and failures. Maybe it’s finding a way to improve on what works or taking an opposite approach to what doesn’t, but whatever inspiration comes from knowing them on a deeper level will help you not only understand your audience better but yourself better too.
Here’s what we mean:
It can help you understand customer expectations. Knowing your competitors is a great way to really ‘get’ your audience. They’re still in business for a reason, so what is it? Do they offer the same product for a better price? Do they offer a better service without charging extra? If your customers have come to expect something from them, they’ll expect it — and more — from you.
It can give you clearer insight into your flaws. Analyzing what other businesses are doing can help you identify missed opportunities in your own services. Maybe you discover that your competitors are offering a broader variety of products or they’re reaching a lot of customers on a social platform you don’t have. Make it your road map to your business evolution.
It allows you to enhance your unique selling points. In this case, you could use your research to take a totally different approach to what your competitors are doing. If their USP focuses on lower prices, then maybe yours will be on offering monthly sales. In other words, knowing their message will help you come up with something better.
It serves as inspiration to start thinking ahead. There will always be emerging trends that will change your business strategy. Understanding how new trends and entrants in the market could impact your business will help you pivot to leverage an opportunity before it could become a problem.
Real talk: the answer is never “I have no competitors.” Even if your startup is creating an all-new industry, there was some way of doing or not doing whatever your niche is before you came along. And whoever was behind that is someone you can definitely learn from.
An easy first step is typing ‘ + city name’ into Google Search and note the top 10 companies that show up. You can also brainstorm a list of seed keywords based on searcher intent. Think what would I type into a search if I were trying to find my product or services?
You can also use a handful of tools like SpyFu or SEMRush to find competitors based on your own website data. By entering your own URL, you’ll get a list of top organic and paid competitors with the ability to toggle timelines to get a glimpse of emerging competitors based on the changes.
And if you’re not sure you’re doing it right, you can always hire an awesome partner like shyft to do it for you. (End shameless plug here. But really, feel free to call us.)
Now, it’s time to get to work. These are a couple of places to start your competitor research:
- Published Content. Examples include press releases, website updates/blogs, annual reports, presentations, webinars. You’ll want to look at the quality, relevance, frequency, and type of content they’re putting out there.
- Social Media Marketing. Analyzing the platforms they use, their response time, followers, tone of voice. Which posts get the most engagement? How are users responding?
- Email Marketing. Sign up for their newsletter to see how often they send emails, what content they share, whether they’re optimized for mobile, and if their emails ever end up in your spam (this indicates a poor sender score).
- Sales Funnel Content. This involves a little more digging — like possibly having a team member go through the motions of a potential customer. Price lists, promotions/specials, white papers; plus customer service techniques, like their follow-up approach or responsiveness.
- SEO strategy. Google Trends, Website Authority Checker, SERP Checker, SpyFu, etc. are all helpful tools for different insights into their online presence. You can also set up Google Alerts for specific keywords to see who is regularly appearing on them or branded alerts specific to certain competitors.
To learn more about learning more about your competitors, contact shyft for a nice chat with a friendly expert.