It is all too easy to get wrapped up in what we’re doing for our business, but take a look around and you’ll soon realise: you’re not the only player on the field. And not only are you not the only player, but the field is actually swamped with people all trying to go for goal. That’s why it’s hugely important that you conduct competitor analysis and really get to know who it is you’re up against, while also getting to know your own business at the same time. In the end, it doesn’t matter how good you are – if you’re not investigating what those around you are doing then you’ll be missing out on potential growth opportunities, or worse, actively falling behind as others pull ahead.
Attacked From All Sides
Here’s a thought: do you actually know who your competitors actually are? When you begin a company, it’s usually a good idea to find your own voice and not get too bogged down with what others are doing, but in the long run it pays to have a detailed knowledge of exactly who it is you’re competing against. You can do this by checking out local listings, using internet search engines, and paying attention on social media sites to see which companies are offering the same products and services as you. If you legitimately think that you might be the only company like yours, then that doesn’t mean you should sit back – think about how easy it’ll be for another company to replicate what you do, and ready for them to actually do so, because no one has a monopoly very long in this day and age!
What Are Their Strengths?
Of course, it’s not enough to just be aware that they exist; you have to be looking at closely at what they’re doing and how they’re different to you. If they’re successful enough to have popped up on your radar, then they’ll be doing something good, and it’s up to you to determine what that something is. It’ll be easier (and more fun) to focus on what they’re getting wrong, but do your best to make a list of everything you like about their business and how it operates. At the end of the session, you should have a list of companies and an even longer list of the good things they’re doing. How does it compare to what you’re doing?
Setting the Advertising Agenda
Taking a look at how your competitors are advertising will be the biggest tool you have when it comes to your own advertising strategy development. Take a look at the message of their marketing and the medium they use to get the message across, along with the demographic that they’re targeting. If you notice that they’re targeting the entry level users who don’t want to spend a lot of money, for example, then you could tailor your own marketing to a more well to do audience who appreciate expertise and quality. There are few things that can make your advertising ineffective than it being second to a campaign already run by your competitor.
You should be monitoring the big things that your competitor updates on a daily basis, such as their website and their social media channels. No company lies entirely with itself; everyone influences everyone else, and you might just find your own inspiration from one of your rivals. You can’t copy what they’re doing, of course, but you might see a way to improve on what they’ve been doing, and inch yourself ahead of them in the process.
You shouldn’t just be keeping a close eye on your rivals because you want to see what percentage of the market they currently have. You should be keeping tabs because they might be introducing new goods or services that make them more competitive than you are. If they’re expanding away from your business into a new area, then it’ll be up to you to decide whether you want to follow them or not. If they’re offering something new and exciting that’s very much in your domain, you should aim to implement those new goods as soon as possible.
Find the Trends
This is more a broad observation task than it is focusing on any one company. If you’re analysing a whole host of your rivals, then it’ll help if from time to time you take a bird’s eye view of all the companies and see if you can notice any developing trends in this market. This will give you a competitor’s edge, as it always does for companies who spot a trend before it becomes fully realised by others. If two years ago you had noticed that companies were getting more traction from their videos than their regular text posts, for instance, you might have out your money into videos for your website and be reaping the benefits right about now….
Established Companies v the Upstarts
Snooping on your competitors isn’t just a task you do once – it’s an ongoing process, one that should be implemented into your monthly agenda. This is necessary because, just like your own company, your rivals are ever changing and improving, and also because you never know when a new company might crop up from nowhere and pose a threat to your prosperity. When that happens, you’ll need to be on your analysis quickly to ensure they don’t blow you out of the water.
Learn About Yourself
Ultimately, you won’t be conducting competitor analysis to learn about your rivals; you’ll be doing it to learn about your own company, what it’s good at and what can be improved. It’s all too easy to only follow your gut and own wisdom, but when you’ve got vast amounts of data about alternative ways to do things right in front of you, it’d be an error to ignore it. In the end you don’t need to change anything about your company because of what your competitors are doing, but it’s much better to be safe than sorry.