Marketing Strategy 101: What is Your Competition Doing?

Is your competition beating you?

While it’s crucial to keep moving forward in business, searching for the next “big thing,” it’s also important to look back at what your competition is doing; this is basic marketing strategy. Too many companies fail to utilize the free intelligence from their competitors. What is working for them? What isn’t? You can learn a lot from another business’ successes and failures – without having to invest a dollar of your own.

An excellent way to benchmark yourself is to objectively look at where your competitors are and how they are doing. You can’t just assume that they are doing better – or worse – than you are, based on what a former customer said or a disgruntled employee. Sit down and evaluate them. Here is a quick list of where to begin:

1. Website

  • Is it more polished than yours?
  • Does it have better functionality?
  • Does it rank above yours in Google, Yahoo and Bing?

2. Collateral

  • What types of content are they offering their customers?
  • How is the quality of that content?
  • How do their sales materials, like brochures and business cards, look in comparison to yours?
  • Do their sales pieces represent them well? What do you like and dislike about them?

3. Distribution Channel

  • If you and your competitors distribute your products, how is their network compared to yours?
  • Why is yours better, or worse?

4. Perception in the Marketplace

  • How do customers perceive your competitors?
  • How are you perceived?
  • Try being a “secret shopper.” What did you like about the buying experience? What did you dislike?
  • How is their pricing compared to yours?
  • How are their products or services compared to yours?

Do you need to take action to beat your competition?

After spending a little bit of time at your desk, there’s a good chance that you’ll have some significant insight into how your competitors are approaching your shared target audience. If they are beating you in sales and visibility, then it’s time to re-evaluate and strategically address the places where they are beating you.

  • Do you need a better website?
  • Do you need to change your advertising strategy?
  • Do you need to increase your branding efforts to alter the perception of your company in the marketplace
  • How can you differentiate yourself?
  • How can you let customers know that you do not share their weaknesses?

Are they really your competition?

Are you afraid of something that doesn’t even exist? Sometimes our perceptions cloud our judgment, so don’t be surprised if you realize that your arch nemesis isn’t really a competitor at all. You may think that another business does the same thing as you, but it may just be a perception issue – either on your part, or theirs – but hopefully not your target audience. Don’t be afraid to cross a business off your list that isn’t relevant; just make sure that you are the one conveying the right message to your audience.

Stay one step ahead.
Once you’ve compared apples to apples, you can correctly set your sights on where you want to be – and who you want to beat. Your customers want you to be more innovative and creative than the competition, so make sure that you are by keeping one eye on them at all times. Sign up for their newsletters, emails, and catalogs. Shop or dine at their establishments periodically. Your competitive advantage is right at your fingertips; all you need to do is uncover it.

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