Chances are, you know who your competitors are. Understanding where you stand among your competitors, and more importantly, why you have that position, is a great way to improve your brand, product, and marketing.
You probably have some that are trailing you, and others that seem impossible to catch up to.
For the competitors that are trailing you in terms of market share, you can take the time to pat yourself on the back for delighting your companies and successfully growing your business. For the ones that seem like they are commanding the market, it’s time to peek into their secret sauce to learn from their successes and leverage their shortcomings.
And Remember – it’s not stealing if you do it better!
Establish whether you want to emulate them, look up to them, or separate yourself from them. While you are competing, you can still admire and learn from their business model and brand voice. You may decide that you’re better off learning how not to run a business. It can also help you understand whether you should try to make a connection and partnership, or stay far away so you’re not associated with their actions.
To start your investigation, you can read customer reviews and develop a general understanding of how they are perceived by customers. You can identify strengths, weaknesses, and what their customers want to see from them in the future. See how they connect with and how active they are in the betterment of their local or global community. Are they much louder than you when it comes to taking a stance on local or global issues? your silence may be hurting you in comparison.
You can look at various digital platforms to identify any black hat marketing techniques that your competitors are practicing. If you read their copy, you can see if they are keyword stuffing. Do they have a lot of low-quality backlinks? When you type in your company name or other fellow competitors into google, are they targeting competitors’ brand names with Google Ads? All of this helps you understand how they view business ethics and what they are willing to do to get sales.
It’s hard to differentiate your company if you don’t know what you are differentiating from.
You may be biased, especially if your competitor offers a very similar product or service. It is so easy to immediately write competitors off by claiming lower quality offerings or less passionate But, putting on your customer cap and looking at a competitor with an open mind will ultimately help you improve your product because everyone does something right.
In many cases, this is as easy as purchasing their product or testing out their service. It’s a great way to realize your childhood dream of becoming a spy. Consider this an undercover mission to do recon on the enemy to make it more fun. If you are a local business and you don’t want to be recognized by your competitor, send a colleague to test it for you and come back with notes.
A Unique Value Proposition (UVP) is a statement that explains how one company’s product or service is better than any alternative out there.
A true UVP will state one thing that is a proven benefit, unique, and truly sets a company apart from the rest of its competitors. Here are some examples of UVPs:
If you understand a competitor’s UVP and understand how your market reacts to the UVP, you can find areas for improvement in your product. You may only update how your product/service benefits are communicated, but that seemingly small change can elevate your brand reputation and set you apart from competitors.
Understand your competitor’s marketing outreach or lack thereof. This research can help you find where they are excelling in comparison to your efforts, and where you come out on top. There is a lot you can do with this information.
For example, if you see that your competitor is commanding the local print opportunities, and is willing to spend way more on prime real estate on ads, you may decide that your budget is better spent somewhere else.
Are they active on Facebook but ignore all other platforms? Be the option that is active and visible everywhere.
Do they have an outdated website? Be the alternative that offers a fresh, modern digital experience.
Identify which pieces of content have the most and least engagement from their audience to find content patterns and trends you can leverage.
While knowledge of the importance of SEO is fairly widespread, knowledge on how to implement SEO best practices is not. Whether your competitors are using an agency to support their website presence or just hacking it themselves, taking a peek under the hood can help you find holes in their strategy that you can leverage.
Spying on your Competitor’s SEO strategy is not as daunting as it may seem. There are many paid or free tools to monitor Search Engine Results Page rankings, keyword strategy, website architecture, structured data strategy, most valuable backlinks and referrals, and everything else that shapes an SEO strategy.
You can improve on your keyword strategy, identify new backlinks, and find easy wins that can help you come out on top.
Depending on the level and intensity of the competition, and whether you are direct or indirect competitors, you can create a new ally through communication, incentives, and a mutual understanding on if you can both grow successfully with a symbiotic relationship.
Competitor partnerships can look like overflow client referrals, co-marketing, community involvement, or any other relationship that makes sense for your business.
For example, if your competitor offers a lower quality, lower price option. You can agree to send them referrals of customers that don’t have the budget for you. But it’s a two-way street – if your competitors can’t meet the needs of a client, they will send the referral to you.
This may not always be a viable option, especially when your market is small or you offer products with minimal differentiation. But, an ally is always better than an enemy.
Want to understand your competitors, but don’t have time to put in the work? Reach out to our team to discuss a competitor analysis and how to leverage the info!