By: First Union
How Competitive Analysis Can Benefit Your Business
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Keeping an eye on the competitors is critical to a successful business strategy. After all, you're both going after the same market share, you're both in the same industry and you probably have very similar goals. By undertaking a competitive market analysis you get a far better handle on who your top competitors are and what strengths and weaknesses they might possess in relation to your own company.
Unfortunately, not enough entrepreneurs take the time to create a competitive analysis report early on in the life cycle of their business. In other words, they fail to learn all that they can about the playing field into which they're entering and as a result, they lack crucial information. In order to optimize your own marketing strategy, you really do need insight regarding your competitors.
In this article, we examine how you go about researching those competitors, and ultimately, what it takes to write a comprehensive and meaningful competitive analysis.
A Competitive Analysis and Your Marketing Strategy
There are market research companies out there ready to create a thorough competitive analysis report for your company—of course, for a fee. Some of the top industry leaders, in fact, do rely on such firms to gather the intel necessary on rival companies. From this, they are able to devise a far more effective marketing/advertising strategy based on the data they receive. What can you learn from such a report…Among other things:
- What products their customers are tending to go toward. This will give you a better picture of current trends in the market.
- How they consequently position their brand. Your company has its own identity; you thus need to figure out how to shape that in response to that of your competitor.
- What benefits do they spotlight in order to better move their products?
- Are there any customer complaints cropping up regarding their products/services. Maybe here is where you identify a gap or a need not being met by a competitor.
- What type of pricing strategy do they have? Knowing where the competition stands as far as their price point is so important to your own pricing structure.
- Are they utilizing a robust content marketing strategy? Your marketing team can benefit by studying what has worked for them thus far.
- Identify critical keyword strategies they're employing online. SEO is vital to getting your business found and recognized. You want to stay one step ahead here.
- How are they generating leads? Is social media a factor? Perhaps it's time to ramp up your own social media strategy.
Selecting Which Competitors to Analyze
First off, of course, you want to choose those competitors that are most relevant to your marketindustry. From there, you have to delve into their subsequent strengths and weaknesses. How do you gather this information? There are a number of resources at your disposal for going about getting the 411 on your competition:
- Do an online search. Start with your own company. See what comes up at the top of the search rankings.
- Talk to your customers—you may even try and talk to some of theirs. See what works and what doesn't.
- Check out their online presence. Visit their site, their social media feeds, any blog posts or even guest posts they might have out there.
- Try and get a hold of their annual reports and other publications
- You can access local market research and government based publications.
- You may want to attend trade shows and industry association meetings.
Some or all of these resources may come in handy in collecting the data you require for valuable competitive analysis. After you get the info, the next step would be to prioritize which competitors are the most relevant in terms of your specific case. Spreadsheets will definitely help you to keep all of that information organized. Upon devising such a table, you then want to go about scoring the various companies. Among the questions relevant to your scoring model might be: Which have products closest to what we sell? Which are most visible in terms of search engine rankings? Which companies are the closest geographically? And which have the largest market share right now?
After ranking the competition, you should start to see quite clearly which represent the greatest threat in a manner of speaking. It might not be cut and dry though; some firms may be secondary competitors in that they have a few similar products but also specialize in a niche unrelated to yours. This could conceivably be something to think about down the road as far as your own expansion goes.
Now it is time to look into those strengths and weaknesses that competing companies have in relation to your own. Some things to keep in mind as you set about identifying these:
- How do they promote their brand in terms of keywords and content?
- What is their brand's unique selling proposition (USP/)?
- How is their sales page structured? What benefits are highlighted?
- What sort of pricing structure do they have?
- List out their calls to action.
- Is their site user-friendly?
In answering the above, you will begin to see what your competitors are doing well and perhaps where they are lagging behind.
- Is their content flat? Are they not developing content on the most up to date topics?
- Are they underemphasizing key benefits?
- Do they have the pricing wrong for a certain product?
- Are their calls to action too weak?
- Is the website outdated?
- Using Your Competitive Analysis to Develop a Dynamic Marketing Strategy
Ultimately, you want to be able to apply your findings to your own marketing strategy. You want to tighten up and enhance current campaigns as well as better integrate your marketing efforts across the board. Part of this will be to clearly elucidate your own USP. Once you have this, be sure to build it into absolutely everything:
- Your logo
- Your website
- Any sales pages
- Advertising materials
- Social media
Also, with the data you've gathered, you might use it to do the following:
- Find better keywords not currently being used
- Create content that has been thus far overlooked
- Address customer service issues that need attention
In order to maximize your marketing dollar you need to have a handle on what the competition is doing and how consequently, it is working for them. This will provide you with a better foundation for addressing your own tactics. The more you know about every aspect of your particular market—the better off you'll be.
If you need funding to help with the competition, First Union is here to help, We have helped many business deal with their competition and make their business better with our many loan options. Call today to speak to one of our agents!