You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel when creating a marketing strategy for your business. Your competitors can teach you a lot, especially when you know what to look for. It’s one thing to know who your competitors are, but as a business owner, you unlock an entirely new knowledge level when you conduct a competitive analysis.
Competitive analysis is a study of your competitors, their products and services, content, prices, and overall marketing strategy. When you conduct a competitive analysis, your goal is to understand what your competitors are doing so that you can gain an advantage over them in your industry.
Researching your competitors can show you what your audience is looking for and what they like about your competition. Use that information to determine how your product or service can solve a problem that your competitors don’t.
Here are three things that your competitors can teach you about marketing strategy.
Disclaimer: The objective of researching your competition isn’t to use their ideas as your own. Instead, you’re looking to see how customers react to and engage with their brand(s).
Social Media Marketing
Look for your competitors on social media and study how they use their social media platforms. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Which social media channels are your competitors most active?
- What types of content (videos, tutorials, education-based content, long-end posts, testimonials, etc.) receive the most engagement from followers?
- How often do they post on social media?
Understanding the types of social media content that your competition uses can give you an idea of what content your audience may engage with also. Make a list of the content that received the most engagement and look for patterns. What do those posts or videos have in common?
Remember, the key isn’t to copy their exact strategy but to identify trends and patterns that you can apply to your own marketing strategy.
Visual Marketing: Branding and Design
After you examine your competition’s social media activity, take some time to visit their websites.
- Describe the homepage layout on your competitions’ websites. Do you see any similarities?
- What pages are in their top navigation menu?
- Do your competitors have a blog on their website? If so, read their blog posts to see how their blog content promotes their brand.
Additionally, are there any commonalities in your competition’s branding, such as a specific color scheme or logo design?
For example, Target and Walmart both use an icon as a recognizable part of their brand. If there’s something consistent in your industry, you may want to consider incorporating that into your brand as well.
Engagement and Customer feedback
Take your research a step further and search your competitors’ company hashtags to see what customers are saying about the brand online. Conduct a Twitter search to see what people are saying there too.
Nothing is more honest and transparent than a dissatisfied customer that took to Twitter. If you find customers who have voiced dissatisfaction about your competition, try to see the original pain point. Did the company acknowledge the customer and/or solve the problem?
Learning from your competition: Final Thoughts
Sometimes, you can find the most valuable information about a brand in what customers and followers say, not what the brand itself says.
While you’re researching your competition, note things that they aren’t doing and see if those strategies are a fit for your own business. For example, can you identify a feature, service, or product that customers ask for that your competitors don’t offer?
As mentioned earlier in this article, knowing your competitors is one thing, and studying them is essential. The key to finding out what your competitors can teach you about marketing strategy is to analyze what they do (and don’t do) to identify your competitive advantage above them.