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.

Blogging and Content Marketing are not SEO

We’ll let you in on how Blogging, SEO and Content Marketing work together.

In our line of work, we see a lot of confusion when it comes to blogging, content marketing, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Writing a blog or placing the popular term “content marketing” on a proposal, sales collateral or website does not mean that you are conducting SEO.

Blogs = Tool

Blogs are simply words on a webpage. While they can contain some keywords that help direct organic search traffic, they are merely one method for carrying out an effective SEO strategy. Blogs by nature are more of a customer retention tool – they help to make your website sticky. Well written blogs make visitors stick around and come back for more … and if you are lucky they share it with friends.

Content Marketing = Strategy

Content marketing is a marketing strategy. It involves giving customers – or potential customers – valuable information in hopes that those customers will eventually buy from you. If your audience believes that you are the authority on a topic, research shows that they will reward you for it. Blogging is commonly used in content marketing. But, downloadable guides, case studies, infographics, videos, podcasts, and books are other content marketing vehicles.

SEO = Strategy

SEO is also a strategy. It consists of all the different techniques that you use to get your website ranked higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). Search engines like Google and Bing appreciate:

  • Keywords, especially long-tailed (thanks to the increasing popularity of voice searches)
  • Fresh, high-quality content
  • Links, both internal and external
  • Images and videos
  • Social media integration
  • Alt and meta descriptions

SEO is an art, yet it’s highly technical and analytical. Blogs and other content marketing techniques are used within SEO strategies to provide consistent, new, relevant content.

Here’s a great way to visualize it: think of SEO as a set of blueprints. If you are going to build something – say, great search engine rankings for your website – you need a plan. To carry out your plan, you need to use a variety of tools.

If you look inside a marketer’s toolbox, you’ll find a wide variety of tools. There might be print tools, website tools, and branding tools. Blogs are one important tool. Let’s say they are the screwdrivers in your toolbox. Content marketing is more like a multi-tool – like a Swiss Army knife. It has a screwdriver, a knife, scissors, and more in it, but without a master plan, it doesn’t do anything by just sitting in your toolbox.

Content Marketing and Blogs are Just Part of SEO

It’s wonderful to provide quality content to your customers. If you are going to spend time and money buying tools, why not actually build something? A powerful SEO strategy can bring your business visibility, which can lead to relationships, and ultimately sales.

If you need any assistance in creating blueprints for the future of your business, Conveyance can help. We not only have architects who are skilled at drawing up plans, but we have a team of “tool experts” ready to help you build something big in 2017. Give us a call today!

Is Your Website a Dead Body? 10 Tips for Improving your SEO

Bring your website back to life with help from Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

I’m sure you’ve seen the meme that says the best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google search results. While it’s funny, it’s also true. Most research indicates that 95 percent of all search traffic comes from the first page. That number should amaze and scare you. If your site isn’t on page one, there’s a good chance that no one is finding you. Google has made you a ghost… you need SEO!

A little bit of search engine optimization (SEO) can go a long way towards boosting your organic search traffic. If you need to bring your website back to life, here are ten tips for improving your SEO:

  1. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. This step is crucial because if you don’t understand your customer and where he or she is coming from, it’s going to affect the rest of your SEO efforts. You need to know who your target audience is, what they like, and how they search. Speak to them in a voice that they can relate to – and give them content they actually want.
  2. Consider your keywords. Google Keyword Planner is a quick and easy way to find the right keywords for your business. Place keywords in your page titles, sub-headers, alt tags, meta description tags, and URLs. For shorter content, keep specific keyword mentions to two to three times. If you have a page with more content, you can go up to four to six. Also remember that long-tail keywords are helpful because they are less competitive.
  3. Make content a priority. Google loves good content. You need to speak directly to your audience while being thorough and original. Figure out a way to produce new content for your site consistently – either through blogs or new pages. Answering frequently asked questions is a terrific way to build up solid content. Think outside the word-box, too; videos and graphics can draw customers in and encourage them to hang around. Great content will also lower your bounce rate, which Google tracks, too.
  4. Build up your links. Both internal and external links are fantastic for your site. Internal links are easy, but you probably need to develop a strategy for building up your external ones. You can reach out to business partners and bloggers, or contribute to sites that are relevant to your industry. You can even use software to track mentions of you on the internet, and then request a link every time someone talks about you. As you build up good links, make sure you do routine housekeeping to remove the ones that no longer work.
  5. Have a mobile-friendly, speedy site. Google really wants your website to be mobile-friendly, and it will reward you (in ranking) if it is. It also hates slow sites, so make sure your site functions well and doesn’t take too long to load.
  6. Amp up your social media game. Get followers on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and other social media sites. Google pays attention to how active you are in these areas.
  7. Encourage customers to review you on Google. Everyone loves reviews, and Google is no exception.
  8. Utilize local listings. Make sure all of your locations have local listings on sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp. Search engines are focusing more and more on local results, so make sure your presence is known.
  9. Stay on top of analytics. Google Analytics allows you to track conversions and geographic data, as well as referrers and bounce rates. By knowing where people are coming from, what they are doing, and how long they are lingering, you can make better decisions on where to focus your SEO time and energy.
  10. Stalk your competitors. I’m not saying that you physically need to follow them, but you should do some research to see where they are showing up in search engine results – and why. If you know their SEO strategies, you can adjust yours accordingly.

If your website has been declared “DOA” by Google, we can help. We personalize SEO strategies based on the needs of our clients and their industries. Give yourself new life by contacting Conveyance today.