When was the last time your business performed a competitor analysis? If you’re not routinely running an analysis, you’re missing out on valuable insights that could help your business grow.
Completing a competitive analysis is an important step in your marketing strategy. With this, you can establish what sets your product or service apart. When completing your analysis, it is important to answer these questions:
- Who are your top competitors?
- What products or services do they sell/offer?
- What are their current marketing strategies?
- What types of media are used to market their products and services?
- What are each competitor’s strengths and weaknesses?
How to Identify Your Competitors:
Learning how to identify your competitors is essential in business. To stay competitive, you must understand who your competitors are, what they are offering and how your business fits into this competitive environment. Regardless of your industry, competitors will likely fall into two categories:
Local Businesses that offer a product or service that could pass as a similar substitute for yours.
Local Businesses that provide products or services that are not the same but could satisfy the same customer need.
Find out what services they offer
Once you identify your top direct and indirect competitors you’ll want to analyze their complete product line and or service offering and the quality of each. You should also note their pricing and any discounts they’re currently offering customers. You’ll likely want to track down answers to many other questions such as:
- Are they a low-cost or high-cost provider?
- Are they using different pricing strategies for online purchases versus brick and mortar?
- How does the company differentiate itself from its competitors?
- How do they distribute their products/services?
- What does the sales process look like?
- What channels are they selling through?
- Do they have multiple locations and how does this give them an advantage?
- Are they expanding? Scaling down?
Review Marketing Channels
Analyzing your competitor’s website and social media accounts are the fastest and easiest way to gauge their marketing efforts. Take note of the following and copy down the URL for future reference:
- Do they have a blog?
- Do they post videos or webinars?
- Do they have a FAQs section?
- Are there featured articles?
- Are they active on any Social Media Marketing Platforms?
- What kind of content are they posting?
- How much of this content is original?
- Posting frequency and consistency
Review Content Published
Choose a small handful of sample content to review instead of tackling every single piece to make the process more manageable When reviewing content, it is important to look at the quantity. Next, determine the frequency of these content assets. When analyzing your competitor’s content, consider the following questions:
- Do they have several hundred blog posts or a small handful?
- Are they posting something new each week or once every few months?
- Is the content structured for readability?
- Is their content free and available to anyone or do their readers need to opt-in?
- Do you see social sharing buttons with each article?
- Are there linked to their social media channels in the header, footer, or somewhere else?
Check for Optimized Content
When you have a solid understanding of your competitor’s content marketing strategy, it’s time to ﬁnd out if it’s truly working for them. Speciﬁcally, you’ll want to look for keyword optimization in these areas:
- Page title
- URL structure
- Header tags
- Image ALT text tag
- Use of internal linking
Complete a S.W.O.T
As you evaluate each component in your competitor analysis it is important to get into the habit of performing a simpliﬁed SWOT analysis. By doing this, you can better position your company, and you’ll start to uncover areas for improvement. Some questions to get you started:
- What is your competitor doing well?
- What is the weakest area for your competitor?
- Are there opportunities in the market that your competitor has identiﬁed?
- In what areas, would you consider this competitor as a threat?
Ready, Set, Go
So now that you know what you’re going to compare, it’s time to start the competitor analysis process. For each competitor, set up a spreadsheet or download this helpful Competitor Analysis Template.
Create your Action Plan
Uncovering Intel is only the ﬁrst step. If you’re not using it to your advantage, you’ll end up wasting all your hard work. After you’ve audited 3-5 competitors, you’ll be ready to analyze your results. Highlight any rows of data that stand out on your spreadsheet. These may be areas where your competitors are doing well or those they’re not doing so great. Next, come up with the speciﬁc steps you’ll take to improve your current position. You’ll want to break this into goals that get broken down into speciﬁc weekly and daily tasks.
You should answer:
- What marketing, sales, or product/services improvements need to happen? How should we change our strategy?
- What changes do we need to make internally?
- What materials, campaigns, and processes need to be updated to gain a competitive advantage?
In a separate tab on your spreadsheet, write down this action plan and the exact steps you’re going to take.
After a few months of making changes, take a step back to analyze how you’re doing. Go back and review your action plan. Take note of how effective it is. Are there any areas that you can improve on? Are there areas that your team is doing well with that you can expand on? What’s working and what has missed the mark with your audience?
Outshine, Rinse and Repeat
Remember to use this intelligence as a guide in your marketing strategy. You don’t want to copy your competitor’s every move and lose your unique point of view. Instead, use what you uncovered as a starting point for strategies that will make your business outshine the competition. If you find this work tedious consider hiring a virtual assistant to help, the second pair of eyes is never a bad idea.
What are some helpful things you discovered while completing your competitor analysis? Do you have any other tips to share? Share them in the comments section of this blog post.