What you have to know about analyzing your competition is the fact that your quest for information will never quite be complete. One day you could have the inside scoop and feel that you know exactly where your competitors stand. The next, and they might roll out something totally new that shocks your entire niche, and you had no way of expecting it. As such, in order to effectively analyze the competition, you must remain on your toes.
You have to be diligent, inquisitive and have a laidback demeanor about how you address and approach your competitors. Here are eight smart tips for analyzing your competitors while still having enough time to grow your own brand.
1. Who is the Competition?
You can go about analyzing your competition in various ways. First, consider what other companies are operating in your particular market, then look at how they are doing. An older company that barely comes up on the map might not be a real competitor, but a newer company that you know little about could present future challenges. Then, there are going to be companies that simply don’t present any type of threat. Perhaps these are the businesses that generate a lot of complaints from customers or are known for having low-quality products. Before you can set your sights on fully analyzing your competitors, you have to got to know who they are. Instead of trying to round up every single, solitary company that operates nearby, look at the ones who have the most similar customer bases.
2. Comparing Strengths versus Weaknesses
During any type of analysis, you have to know what it is that you are planning to compare. Think about what your company does best, what it is highly regarded for, and then ponder what your weaknesses are. Being honest during this stage will help you to better analyze all of your competition. As it stands right now, how good is your company’s level of customer service? Where can you improve, in terms of organization and cost-saving measures? These are the areas that you also want to analyze when it comes to competitors. Anything that they do better is something that you also can improve upon, whereas the areas where you exceed will lead to more advantages.
3. What do Your Consumers Think?
Do your consumers do business with your company because you are truly the best? You will only know this if you ask. Although analyzing your competitors often entails going out and seeking information about them directly, you can get indirect information by learning more about how consumers feel about your business. Add a survey to your paper receipts, send emails, or simply have your employees ask customers in person. Inquiring about what you could do to improve service or getting feedback in the form of emailed customer data will be quite important when you start to get more into your competitor analysis.
4. Dueling Social Media Approaches
Another tip for analyzing your competitors is to see what approach they are taking with social media. Often, companies that make regular use of social media are excelling in other areas of business. Being active on social media usually means that you have a solid brand and are confident about interacting with your audience, sometimes in real-time. You might be able to get a couple of good hints on what the competition is doing correctly by reading past tweets and scrolling through their Facebook posts.
5. Acting as a Covert Spy
Now, any form of spying you should do on competitors has to be absolutely 100 percent above board. In essence, you could be deemed as spying on the competition just by simply placing an order with them. At any point where you interact with competing companies and your end goal is to gain information, well, congratulations; you have officially graduated from spy academy. Just don’t miss out on any chances to learn about your competitors directly and ethically.
6. Put Together a Research Panel or Study Group of Your Competitors
If you really want to analyze your biggest competitors, then you are going to have to see them from a different angle. Sure, you can get at least basic information and opinions from your most loyal customers. You can also get some highly valuable data in the form of covert yet ethically sound ‘spying,’ but there is nothing like having a good, old fashioned research panel. This is where you get consumers who have shopped with both of your companies, put them in a room, and get a treasure trove of consumer research data. Everything from the branding of your products to learning about consumers’ last customer service interaction with your competitors can be gained in a matter of weeks. When you put together a study group or research panel, you also have the option of asking for participants to come back so that you learn what they think about changes you have made to your brand.
7. Pay Attention to How the Competition Advertises
A lot of companies have bigger marketing budgets than ever. Whether they pay social influencers to promote their brands or focus on email marketing, businesses know that the internet is one of the best places for them to connect with new customers. And while you probably have your own advertising campaign at hand, analyzing the competition thoroughly also means you should know how they implement marketing. Pay attention to their ad campaigns and do some research on what they are doing to promote their company. You might sign up for a competitor’s newsletter to learn about when they are next going to have a sale. You can also just sign up to have their mailers and other advertisements sent to your home. Analyzing the advertisement plan of your competitors will help you in streamlining your own marketing campaigns in the relative near future.
To stay in the game, you have to know what the competition is up to. While there is likely enough room in the market for you and your competitors to succeed, it doesn’t hurt to know confidently that your place is secure. Use these tips to learn about what all of your closest competitors are doing to keep up in the race.