As of 2018, there were 30.2 million small businesses in the country. Without the ability to differentiate themselves from the competition, however, these companies are bound to stay small.
So how do you set yourself apart from the competition?
Well, you need to know a little more about your business competitors first. Otherwise, you’ll fail to successfully stand out with your own distinct brand.
Don’t fall into the crowd! With these eight tips, you can complete an in-depth competitor analysis on your own. Once you know more about your competition, you can make a strong marketing strategy that’s guaranteed to help you stand out.
Start identifying your business competitors and make your mark with these tips!
1. Look Beyond Google
Many people start their research with a simple Google search. While it helps to visit a known competitor’s website to read about their business, there are other tools that can help your research.
For example, consider using SpyFu to determine which keywords your competitors are using.
It’s important to determine what your competitors use within their search engine optimization (SEO) strategy as well as their paid advertising strategy. SEO will tell you which keywords your competitors are using in organic content, such as blog posts. Researching their paid advertising will tell you which keywords they’re targeting using pay-per-click, or PPC.
Once you determine which keywords your competitors are using, you can also learn which customers they’re targeting.
This can help you strengthen your own targeting strategy.
You can also use some of Google’s tools, such as Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner, and Google Alerts.
Google Trends will indicate what your customers are searching for and which trends are the most popular. Google Alerts, on the other hand, can help you set notifications for your competitors. That way, you can keep up-to-date with the latest industry-wide news.
2. Run a Report
An industry analyst can also give you a heads up. The more you know about what’s going on in your industry, the easier it is to keep track of the major players.
It’s important to remain apprised of trade associations and advocacy groups as well. These organizations are already evaluating your industry and competitors. Associations and groups can also help you determine where the industry is heading.
You can also check for company financials using the IRS, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or the U.S. Census Bureau. Checking a competitor’s financial health and comparing it to your own can help you recognize discrepancies.
For example, consider reviewing your competitors’:
- Gross profit margins
- Operating profit margins
- Net profit margins
- Sales trends
- Profitability trends
This information can tell you how competitors are using their money. If they’re using their budget more effectively than you are, take notice and determine where to best make a change.
Running these reports can provide you with detailed insights into your competitors.
3. Stay Social
Social media is a great way to research your business competitors and the industry.
More companies are using social media to keep their customers (and investors) up-to-date with company-wide and industry news. Watching the competition on social media can provide you with a cost-effective method to keep up with the competition.
Watch the comments, too. Customers tend to speak up when they’re unhappy. If customers are having problems using a competitor’s product or service, recognize an opportunity.
Show customers that your product or service doesn’t cause those problems. Then, demonstrate how you can become a solution instead.
4. Check-In With Customers
Speaking of customers, feel free to talk to them about your competitors, too.
When you win over new customers, ask why they decided to switch to your company. Ask what they preferred about your business competitors. This can help you recognize ways to improve based on a customer’s point of view.
You can also use geofence marketing to attract customers to your business before speaking to them about their experiences.
5. Connect at Conferences
Trade shows, associations, and conferences can all help you learn more about who your customers are. While attending these conventions, make sure to explore your competitors’ booths or watch how they interact with customers.
6. Hire the Competition
If you really want an inside scoop, considering hiring from the competition. They’ll know more about your competitors than anyone else.
This is a great chance to learn how your business competitors operate from the inside.
Ask questions such as their plans for the future and methods for innovating. Are they partnering with anyone soon? What problems are they experiencing?
This in-depth information also provides you with opportunities to improve your own business. Ask the employee why they left. Then, try to avoid those same problems within your own company.
It’s also important to watch for staff updates. Who are your competitors hiring? What new roles are they trying to fill?
For example, if they’re bringing a patent attorney onto the team, they probably have big plans to expand and innovate.
7. Send Out a Survey
You can also hire a third-party company to conduct an industry-wide survey focused on your competitors. Asking your competitors about their pricing, sales process, and response time can help you differentiate your own sales process.
In addition to helping you stand out from the competition, a survey can also tell you where competitors excel.
Then, you can use this information to make effective changes to your own processes.
8. Give Them a Call
Sometimes, it helps to befriend the competition.
Meet new people at conferences and trade shows. Exchange information and mention your interest in discussing your shared industry.
Or you can call your competitors up! Ask questions as if you’re a potential client. This can help you learn more about the competition and get firsthand experience regarding their sales process.
Standing Out: How to Identify Your Business Competitors for a Stronger Strategy
Ready to stand out from the crowd? Now that you know how to identify and research your business competitors, dive in! This research can prove valuable in helping your business differentiate from the rest and excel in your industry.
Looking for more ways to stand out and wow customers?
Check the Tips section of our blog for the latest guides!