Competition is inevitable in the business world. There’s no time to rest since new competitors show up constantly and if you are not careful enough, they might even steal your customers.
Staying afloat in such a harsh environment is no easy job but fortunately, there are a lot of great steps and tactics you can deploy to keep your business up and running, acquiring new clients on a regular basis.
One of these steps is studying the marketplace and your competition. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not trying to say you need to copy them at every step, but keeping track of what they’re doing and leveraging your observations can help you a great deal with staying ahead of the pack.
On the other hand, reviewing your own tasks, goals, and metrics can also do wonders when it comes to coming up with new product/marketing ideas, and can give you better insight into how you should approach reaching your goals.
In order to track your competitors and leverage the knowledge you have gained without copying them and sacrificing your originality, your best tactic would be performing a competitive analysis.
This method can let you know more not just about your competition but about a really important aspect of your business – your customers.
We are living in an age where customers’ opinions, expectations, problems, and desires are constantly evolving and shifting your tactics in the proper direction can help you stay prominent on the market.
Choose your competitors
First of all, to see how you stack up against your competitors, you need to choose a few of them you can focus on.
Make sure to take your time with this one, since the better your selection is, the better your insights will be.
You also want to note that there are basically 3 different types of competitors:
Direct – Offering the same products as you do for the same audience
Indirect – Offering a similar product to the same target audience
Alternative solutions – Providing alternative products or services for the same problem to the same people.
Interview your customers
Another great way to improve your competitiveness on the marketplace is by directly asking customers about your and your competitors’ products.
Surveys and interviews are great to get direct feedback from your customers. They can point out certain advantages and disadvantages your product holds over other companies’ products. You can learn why they’ve chosen you or switched for other products.
By asking them, you can pinpoint areas of improvement not only in your product line, but thorough and well-strategized questioning can also help you improve the way you market your offers.
Start with surveys, as they can help you get a baseline idea of what’s happening and follow with interviews where you can go more in-depth.
Stay on top of their digital presence and practices
You probably know that it’s utterly important to have a website that’s centered around driving sales and promoting your brand. You have your social media channels that also showcase who you are and aim to raise awareness.
Your website and entire digital presence should speak to your customer and even though it may be speaking it’s not using the right language or tone. That’s where you can gain leverage from taking a better look at what your competitors are doing within the digital realm.
Take a look at their website – Look at how their website is designed. What kind of message does the design reveal? Is it inviting in comparison to yours? What’s the copy like on the website? Is it more educational, more entertaining, informational, or is it more aggressively geared toward sales? Look at the imagery. Is it more in-tune with the industry than your images? Are the products presented better? Is the website newer, easier to navigate? Does it have features that your site doesn’t have?
The point here is to get as much information as possible and see where you need to improve. Maybe you’re not presenting your products in the best light. Maybe your website is outdated or your copy is not persuasive enough. Maybe you don’t have enough blogs, maybe you have too much.
Take your time with this and don’t rush and try to copy everything you see as an advantage. Chances are, your website might outperform theirs from certain aspects, meaning you just only need a few tweaks.
Landing Pages – Check out how they design their landing pages by clicking on their social ads, joining their email list, and by checking out their and on Google.
Again, see how the copy is written, how it’s driving the sale. See if they are offering any specials, free stuff, and so on. Check out the layout of the page.
Be thorough and see what you can take from the approach they are encouraging. If you know that they have better conversion rates than you, implementing their tactics into your strategy may help you boost your own conversion rates too.
Social Media Channels – By checking out their social media, you can gain valuable insight into how they use these platforms to raise brand awareness, to boost conversions and to market products.
Social media is a powerful branding tool with lots of different options for businesses to tell their story and to reach out to a bigger audience. Check out your competitors’ channels and see how they are going about it. If they are getting better engagement on their social media content, try to learn why that is happening. Are the images better, more professional? Is the copy better? Are they using a better approach to tell their story? By asking the right questions from yourself, you can learn a lot from your competitors.
Also, try to take a better look at their social media ad campaigns. Click on their ads and see where they take you. Observe how the ad takes you to closing a deal. Try to figure out who they are targeting. Read the comments they are getting under sponsored posts. Learn from every aspect of their strategies and save those tactics that can prove useful for you.
Testimonials, Case Studies, Reviews – Carefully examining your competitors’ testimonials, case studies, and reviews can also give you the competitive edge you are looking for, however, you might want to take a few things with a grain of salt, but more on that later.
First of all, you can learn a bit about the demographics they are targeting. Are they showing senior citizens or young people? Are you targeting the same audience or not?
Take your time and read the testimonials, case studies, and reviews. Learn what customers liked best in your competitor’s product line, how it solved their problem, and why they chose it in the first place.
Reviews are less controlled from this perspective and can offer you special insight. While you should know that a lot of businesses use fake reviews to leave a better impression on their brand, you’ll also find a great deal of useful and honest reviews.
See what were the positive traits of their products/services according to the reviewers. Also, take a look at the harsher reviews. Maybe it’s not the product, it’s more customer service. Keep an eye out and don’t limit your perspective to the “product-customer” relation exclusively.
General marketing tactics – Go into details. Are their prices more competitive? Do they offer better shipping and packaging options?
Pricing is a crucial part of every product’s success and even though you two may be in the same price range, your competition is a bit more flexible and thus, has the edge.
If that’s the case, check out what kind of packages, membership options they offer. Take a look at their free trials, specials, discounts, down- and upsell arrangements.
If they are a lot more flexible than you, maybe it’s time to introduce a few new sale methods.
Focusing on yourself
On the other hand, you shouldn’t only rely on what you see around your competitors. There are a lot of in-house steps you can take to improve your presence on the market, and some of them don’t require that much effort.
Strategize and review regularly
We all know that in order to reach our goals in this stiff competition, we need to organize ourselves and create a comprehensive strategy to keep doing the necessary steps to flourish as a business.
Without a coherent strategy, businesses and business owners can get sidetracked, start focusing on the wrong problems, miss deadlines, mess up schedules, and create chaos across the board. Creating comprehensive business and digital marketing strategies, businesses can keep their online and offline focus with a detailed execution plan on how to approach and achieve their goals.
Creating and sticking to effective strategies can be overwhelming, especially if you’re thinking of creating a digital marketing strategy. However, there are professionals out there who can help you. Professionals like us. Click here, if you are ready to create a winning digital marketing strategy.
On the other hand, you should also track yourself and your team. Doing daily, weekly, or monthly project recaps where you discuss the actions you have taken and the results they have yielded can give you a better picture of how your team is able to execute the strategies you’ve implemented.
Also, you can get a better idea of the team’s general performance, work-pace, and level of motivation. You must understand, that’s even though the vast majority of merchandising/marketing revolves around products/services, and the customer, you won’t improve your sales numbers unless your team is not functioning optimally.
Reviewing your metrics
In order to stay afloat in the business, you should also take some time to review how your channels, website, and ads are performing.
Checking different insights for your social media channels for example can help you tell if your posting and branding strategy is driving you the results you wish to achieve and it can signal that certain tweaks might be needed or if a complete overhaul is necessary.
Checking website metrics can also let you see which pages and content bring you the most visitors, how many of them convert into customers (this is especially important if you are running an e-commerce store), how good you are doing in the rankings and so on.
Generally speaking, keeping an eye on your metrics can help you see whether your current digital marketing strategy is working for you or not. By reviewing your numbers regularly you can see the daily/weekly/monthly shifts in customer behavior and you can make changes accordingly or even change your strategy if you feel it’s not working for you.
On the other hand, the following metrics can help you see those gaps and holes in your strategy you didn’t account for before implementation. They can also help you even further exploit strategy steps that are already performing pretty well by optimizing them even further.
All in all, your metrics reflect the success of your strategy, and studying them will help in any case.
Education, Learning & Development
Apart from reviewing your work and how your efforts perform, you should also invest your time (and sometimes money) in further educating yourself.
Learning more about your craft can enable you to produce even better, more reliable products that will satisfy your customers even more.
Learning more about marketing can help you reach new customers. The digital realm can serve as a great marketing surface, with an array of channels to exploit, however, thanks to its dynamic nature, tactics that were useful yesterday, might prove useless today. As such, keeping up with digital marketing trends can help you with attracting new customers, retaining old ones, and can give you a better chance to showcase both your brand and your products in a better light.
Different learning and development programs can help you and your team function better while working together. With specialized programs geared toward teamwork, each member can learn to better understand their roles and responsibilities within the team, becoming a better team player in the process, further improving the work dynamic within your company, further improving the quality of your products.
If you feel that you’re losing your competitive edge, here are 5 things you can always ask yourself to check if you’re on the right path.
Putting all this into perspective
There’s a lot of advice here, and implementing everything will take time. As said already above, this is not a fly-by-night process, both analyzing your competition and yourself takes time. Don’t worry if you even miss a few key features in your competition’s website and don’t make a big deal out of it if you find that your strategies have minor gaps in them. All of this comes with time and the more time you spend doing these things, the better will you become at it.
Finally, you can always reach out for help. Professional marketers can help you stay relevant on the marketplace, can help you add value to your products, and can help you reach more people. They can also help you come up with a marketing strategy and can even be at your service regarding education too. Fortunately, we can help you with all this. All you have to do is reach out to us below, so we can help you outperform your competition.