When running a business, you can spend so much time dealing with the day-to-day problems, managing staff, liaising with clients and sorting out payroll that you may never give a second thought to your competitors at all.
But they are out there, bidding for the same contracts, marketing to the same customers and possibly poaching your personnel. So it really does pay to keep an eye on what your rivals are getting up to. In fact, if you are monitoring the competition properly, they can turn out to be one of your greatest assets.
You can learn from their mistakes, by reading reviews and social media, as well as find out what worked for them or where they are going, by reading their website and signing up to their newsletters, and by looking at several companies doing the same thing you are, you can spot gaps in the market.
You may even find that you have a lot more competition out there than you ever realized. Being a well-brought up business owner, you may feel this is somewhat underhanded, but the chances are that your competitors are doing it to you. All’s fair in love and business and a well-planned and detailed analysis of your competition can help determine the best course of action for promoting your company online.
1. Understand that your competitors aren’t who you think they are
Depending on what your company does, there will probably always be one or two competitors who you’re very much aware of. You may even know them personally. Maybe they are stealing clients from you or bidding against you for projects. It’s of course great to know what these competitors are up to, but it doesn’t just because they are the most visible, they are not the only competition you need to be aware of.
Business is changing, and the companies you compete with in the brick-and-mortar world aren’t necessarily the ones you’ll be competing against online. In fact, on many occasions our clients here at Pronto will list a handful of companies that they consider to be competitors, but detailed research on our part shows that those companies are not performing well online. And instead, we’re able to find a list of competitors that our client didn’t even know about. Competitors who are often boast a thriving web presence.
By finding these competitors, known and unknown and looking at what they are doing, you can develop a clearer picture of what the overall market looks like before working on your strategy.
2. Find out about new tactics you hadn’t considered before
With this expanded picture of your local market and a few new competitors to dig into, it’s very likely that you’ll find that the most successful competitors are all using similar tactics – perhaps even tactics that you didn’t think about or assumed wouldn’t work for you.
For example, if a few of your competitors are running large AdWords campaigns then there’s a very good chance that AdWords can be a profitable source of new leads and clients for you as well.
The same goes for content marketing, SEO or social media tactics. If something is working well for multiple businesses in your area, then it can work well for you too.
3. Start to build a strategy based on what your competitors aren’t doing
That being said, you don’t want to copy exactly what your competitors are doing. A well-balanced marketing strategy will consider both what’s currently working for your competitors and what tactics that aren’t using.
If everyone in your industry is focused on online advertising but no one is investing in content marketing, there’s a huge opportunity to establish yourself as a leader if your field by producing great content. Of course, you don’t have any proven evidence that content marketing will drive new clients to you, but it is surely worth taking that risk. If done correctly, it could be the advantage you need to jump ahead of your competitors.
4. Try and look at your business in a new light
It’s easy to get caught up in your own little world and think that you know the best way to market your business, but researching your competitors can give you a fresh perspective on the best way to reach out to and connect with your audience.
Perhaps one of your competitors presents their value proposition in a different way from you, or maybe their professional-looking website gives them an air of credibility that your rather stale 5 year old website does not.
5. Now reflect anew on every aspect of your business
If you’re taking the time to look at the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, it’s also a great time to consider your own strengths and weaknesses. Are you always getting beaten in organic search results? Does your sales team forget to follow up with leads that have gone cold?
A competitive analysis shouldn’t just look outward, but it should be introspective as well, comparing their strengths to your weaknesses and vice versa. This is what will ultimately allow you to find the biggest opportunities to capitalize on – your weak areas that need improvement and your competitor’s weak areas that can be exploited.
In the end, a good marketing plan based on a competitive analysis will consider all of this: a clearer picture of the current market, tactics that have consistently worked for you competitors, tactics that your competitors haven’t adopted yet, a new perspective on how to present your value to potential clients, and an honest assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses.
Are you ready to start your competitive analysis? We can help.