Love Your Competitors
Wait — Do we need competition to thrive?
I think we do. So when we say we are going to “crush the competition,” we are acting honestly and with complete transparency. Besides providing a reference for comparison, competition provides an organization with a benchmark for differentiation. Competition can be evaluated in terms of financial performance, product performance, business strategy, marketing, distribution, innovation, and more. The metrics are freely selectable and should be used to your advantage to uncover gaps and highlight superiority.
At what point does competition become irrelevant? At 50% market share? Maybe 60%? Certainly 70% would qualify. Take the US market for drones, for example, which is dominated by DJI, a Chinese company commanding a 78% share of the market. Despite their commanding leadership position, the company has reached a tipping point where consumers are looking for alternatives, simply because of the market domination of this company.
Competition is good because it enables us to aspire to something better.
What to Look For
Every company should periodically evaluate their competitors as part of gathering competitive intelligence. If you don’t have the time or budget to contract for a professional competitive intelligence effort, you can still evaluate competitors on their marketing efforts at a high level. Some things to consider:
- Website. Taking your audience into consideration, what would you do differently? Are your competitors’ websites better or worse in terms of messaging, graphics, functionality, search, layout, or ease of use? Do they offer e-commerce, chat, or value-added services? What content are they offering? Is the content gated? Or is it “free?”
- Search engine optimization (SEO), keywords, and pay-per-click (PPC). Using online tools and services like Semrush and SpyFu, you can evaluate and optimize your efforts with regards to web traffic and keyword rankings. Neil Patel posted a stellar blog titled “25 Sneaky Online Tools and Gadgets to Help You Spy on Your Competitors,” which offers excellent insights on the tools available for competitive evaluation.
- Advertising. Where are competitors advertising? How are they using Google Ads? What’s paid and what’s earned? Are they on common industry websites? Is their messaging consistent? Are they offering any purchase incentives in their advertising?
- Messaging. What types of claims are being made? Are there product comparisons? What’s the messaging and strategy in their blogs and newsletters?
- What is the frequency of competitors’ blogs and newsletters? Frequency is often an indicator of commitment. If the last post was May of 2005, it’s an area of opportunity!
- Events. Evaluate trade shows and conferences for investment and presence. Market segment coverage will provide insight into their strategy.
- Webinars, video, and podcasts. Evaluate third-party references or guest speakers. This is a highly visible area of differentiation and has some stickiness as well as extended shelf life — meaning that these efforts are recorded and posted for viewing and listening ad infinitum et ultra.
- Social media. What is their social media strategy? Consider the content, channel, and frequency.
Above all, rate the quality of competitors’ efforts. Is the podcast clear and well-edited? Does the video address the customer’s needs? Does the ad make sense, and do the links work? Could you do better?
When you review your competitors’ marketing efforts, consider the elements and what you’ve learned. In essence, you’ve recreated your competitor’s marketing plan! From there, it’s possible to infer a strategy as well as their budget.
- If you are impressed by the scope and quality, consider ways to emulate or innovate.
- If you are not impressed, consider if your existing plans need to be modified to address gaps or opportunities uncovered in your evaluation process.
Knowledge is power, and it would be foolish and irresponsible to ignore or underestimate your competitors. By using a little research and competitive analysis, you can gain a better understanding of the market and your competitors, and justify changes to your own strategy and budget.
If you want help standing out from your competitors, contact us for a 30-minute consultation.