When your potential customers are in need of what you and your competitors provide, they have a choice to make: Do they buy from you, from one of your competitors or should their save their money and leave it? Which is why, if you want to position yourself effectively in front of your audience, you need to know what you’re up against.
A thorough understanding of the competition – together with knowing your ideal client – enables you to make that customer an offer he can’t refuse. So let’s find out how you can keep track of your competition and generate new business.
Do your research
The best way to gather information about your competitors is by collecting data and samples. For example, check out their website, collect marketing material, follow their blog and social media channels and subscribe to their newsletter.
Consider ordering their product to see how they designed their packaging. Also, get an idea of their ordering process and customer service, or give their shop a visit (or send a friend to investigate).
Write your findings down so you can refer back to them and track changes over time. There are many tools out there – some free, some not – that can help you keep track of your competition.
The easiest way to analyse their branding is to browse their website. Write down everything you notice:
- What’s their colour scheme?
- What does the logo look like?
- Do they have a slogan or tagline?
- Are they specifically addressing certain target groups?
- What does their About page say about the company’s background, mission statement and values?
The next step is to check their SEO and page ranking. There are free online tools for SEO checks (for example Neil Patel’s SEO Analyzer) that show how well a website performs in online searches.
They often also show you which keywords they rank for and what external pages are linking to the site. Additional, you can google them and note their page titles and descriptions.
Read more about how to optimise your website for search engines.
2. Social Media/Blog
To keep track of your competition, check out how many followers they have, whether they interact with their audience regularly or simply set up automated posts. Does the profile represent their brand?
Their blog should demonstrate whether they’ve done their homework and are focusing on what their customers want to read.
Also, check if they share their posts online or have set up a newsletter. It’s worth following them to check up on news, changes to their portfolio or their latest offers and discounts.
3. Marketing material
If you can, dissect the look and feel of your competitor’s marketing material.
- Is the print of good quality?
- Is the design consistent?
- Where did you find them?
- What do they use them for?
- Who are they targeting?
The same applies to their product packaging or customer communication. Do you feel in good hands with them? If so why?
4. Products & services
- Do they offer pre-defined packages?
- Do they tell you exactly what you’ll be paying for?
- What is their pricing like?
- Are you more expensive or cheaper?
- How do they deliver?
Look out for special offers and check if they have a referral scheme for existing customers.
Check out where they are based:
- Whether it’s shops or offices, are they easy to reach?
- Do they have parking available?
- Does their website offer you all the required information to find them?
- What are their opening hours like?
Make a note of their catchment area. Are they covering the same area as you are?
Understand your competition
Always keep in mind, this is not about copying your competitors but defining your own approach. So use this exercise to make up your own mind and get a feel for the market your small business is up against.
During the whole process, you should also write down what your competition’s strengths and weaknesses are:
- Is their website out of date?
- Are there typos in the advertisement?
- Is their product description easy to understand?
- What do you think of their logo?
- What’s their brand & tone of voice like?
- Does their marketing reflect their pricing?
And don’t forget to look for opportunities for and threats to your own business as well. If they’re charging more than you, that’s the perfect opportunity to undercut them or add value for your customers in another way.
If they offer more services than you, find people to collaborate with and offer your customers a more comprehensive product. Put these findings into the heart of your marketing strategy.
WANT TO READ MORE?
To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses: Why You Need One & How to Define it
How to Identify a Target Market for Your Small Business
What’s a USP, Why Do I Need One & How Do I Get One?
Small Business Brand: What Is It, Why Do I Need One & How Do I Get One?