02 Feb Taking Your Competitor Analysis To The Next Level
Competition is healthy.
Knowing your company’s competition is healthier.
If you’ve watched an episode of the TV show Shark Tank you know that one of the key factors for entrepreneurs to get an investment in their business is for them to have a solid understanding of their market; and with that, their competition.
Every episode, you’ll hear one of the show’s celebrity investors ask some version of the question, “Tell me about your competitors.” Why? Because knowing your competition means being able to create a game plan for how to surpass them.
This knowledge is paramount in running a successful business, but can sometimes get overlooked amidst other priorities. Don’t make this mistake.
Not only is it important for you to understand what your brand is, it’s important for you to understand where your brand stands, against competitors. This clear understanding is pivotal for investors looking to invest in your company, and for your business to have a clear path to growth
Competitor analysis is something all successful businesses do, but the starting point might not seem as easy as it sounds. Luckily, it doesn’t take rocket science to do market research, and small steps can result in leaps and bounds in the success of your business.
Step 1: Learn to Talk About Your Business
If you’re a small business starting out, saying that you’re simply “better” than your competition isn’t going to cut it. Learning the right way to talk about your business is key to taking it to the next level. For instance, do research to find out, not how you’re better, but how you’re different.
When analyzing your competitors, you should be asking yourself these three questions:
1. How are we different? What are you and your competitor’s key differences?
2. How are we similar? What aspects are you both pursuing (and can there be action taken to change them)?
3. How are they better? This can be a bit of an ego punch, but acknowledging that there are certain aspects other companies are doing better, is one of the first steps to surpassing them.
Step 2: Become A Marketing Pirate
Marketing rules are more like guidelines. Don’t feel like, because something has been done a certain way before, that it’s the only way for your company to do it, now. Even if you feel pressured to follow industry trends or common practices, don’t be afraid to try something new.
The reality of successful businesses is that they risk on marketing, and take chances on what may not work for them. That’s okay. In order to grow, sometimes you have to slip up.
Grow from these moments, and make sure that you’re continuing to risk and learn from them.
Here are some ideas for what to look for when researching your competitors:
1. How do they treat their customers?
2. How is their social media/website/promotional presence?
3. How is the quality of their products or services?
4. What culture are they selling, along with their product?
5. Who are their target customers?
6. What do they prioritize as far as business practice?
7. What is their internal company life like? Who works there? Who owns it?
8. What features do they offer their customers/clients?
9. What are the perceived benefits of what they are selling?
After going through these questions you should have a solid idea of the company you’re looking at. Next step? Creating a plan based off of the information you’ve gathered.
Step 3: Create A Strategy From Their Mistakes
After taking an evaluation of your competitor’s strategies, products and features, make sure you take time to look over what has worked for them, and what hasn’t? Maybe they have a really great social media presence, but their website isn’t quite up to par. Maybe they have a great product, but there doesn’t seem to be any holistic benefit. Or maybe, while selling the same product, you have a completely different target market.
Find three of your competition’s weaknesses, and then write down how you could improve on them. They don’t need to be huge aspects of their business, just things that set you apart.
Remember, this list probably won’t stay relevant for long, since other companies will also be growing and improving. In fact, as your company evolves, your competition might change completely. These are great reasons why it’s important for you to make analyzing your competition something you do continuously.
Gaining access to marketing and competitor knowledge takes time and effort, but it’s well worth the payout. The good news is, doing this research can become second nature to you. Taking mental notes of the marketing efforts of similar companies and brands can be one of the most helpful parts of your journey to gather competitor knowledge.
Now that you’re equipped with the questions to ask, don’t be afraid to build your brand off of the knowledge you’ve receive. Running a business is a lot of work in itself, make things a little less complicated by learning from those around you—whether it’s what to do, or what not to do.