Every company wants to stand out amongst their competitors. So, where do we start? The answer is simple: research, research, research. But we’re not just talking any kind of research. The key to becoming successful, is making competitive research and evaluation the foundation of your business endeavors.
“Keeping track of who your competitors are, what people are saying about them, and what they are saying themselves can help you differentiate your business and stay ahead of trends that could impact your business.”
– Michele Levy, brand strategy consultant
Conducting and evaluating competitive research can seem like a daunting task. Here are some tips to help guide you through the process. You can find research basics here if you need further help getting started.
1. Use what’s at your fingertips.
You need to become an expert of your own industry, which starts with understanding who your competition is and what makes them successful. Find out what consumers are saying about your competitors by paying attention to various reviews and ratings.
Go a step further, Google your own business. It may seem silly, but this can provide a better insight into how consumers really see your business. This can help you define what your business’ strengths are and the areas that need some more attention in order to improve.
2. Set standards.
Now that you have conducted some initial competitive research, it’s time to develop benchmarks to understand your competition at a higher level. Use the following items as benchmarks to outline in your competitive research:
- Company mission and brand mantra
- Product offerings
- Company and product websites
- Social media strategy – what platforms are your competitors utilizing? How are consumers engaging with your competitors on those platforms?
- Who works for them? – Look at their current employees and note what kind of skills they bring to the company. Who used to work there? Go and talk to them to find out why they left.
These are just a few items to keep in mind when evaluating competitors. We guarantee that new categories will arise as you continue your research. Keep your evaluation consistent across your entire industry so that you can make direct comparisons.
3. Find out about past market trends.
Have you heard the phrase, “leave the past in the past”? Well, that’s not the case here. When conducting competitive research, don’t forget to take a look at who used to be the biggest fish in the pond. Find out why they aren’t anymore and why other companies rose above them within the industry.
Public companies are required to publish certain facts and numbers. Use your access to this information to your advantage. This will help give you insight into what led to the company’s success, as well as what could have helped lead to their decline.
While diving into all of your research, you probably noticed certain themes arise about competitors and your own company. Whatever these themes are, brainstorm how to best use the common themes to ensure that you are driving value with your consumers.
4. Get to know your consumers and your competitors’ consumers.
Part of evaluating a business is evaluating real-life consumers. What are their behaviors? How do they interact with companies and consume products or services?
Check your social media research. Are consumers actually using engaging with your social media accounts? Engagement is almost more important than the number of followers your account may have. This is because engagement helps to indicate interest and personal investment in the company.
Take the old fashioned route and go visit a store. One of the best ways to meet your consumer, or competitors consumers, is to meet them where they are. Look at who is visiting the physical locations and watch real life activations. Pay attention to the people in the store and what their purchasing behaviors are. Observe and ask yourself these questions:
- Where in the store do they go first?
- How long do people visit the store for?
- Do they interact with the sales staff?
- Does the sales staff put the customer off and lead to a “no sale”?
5. Keep the process alive.
As much as we wish that conducting and evaluating competitive research is an easy box to check off, the reality is that it should be an ever-present, ongoing effort. Markets are constantly changing due to a whole slew of factors. Opinions and trends are always shifting, new companies are started, other companies may close shop, the economy may take a dip or enter a booming year; whatever the case may be, always pay attention to the market and keep your competitive research efforts going.
Remember to keep those benchmarks in mind. Having standards to refer back to will help you stay organized and know what to look out for as time passes. Compare new information to old to help you understand any trends that have developed. You’ll find that documenting everything will pay off in long run.
6. Apply your competitive research.
For the love of everything that is good, keep these research tips in mind when moving forward in your business practices. Let your research inform how you approach your brand’s creative strategy, messaging and even your product makeup and sales techniques. As marketers, we understand that no decisions should be made without having solid research behind it.
Interested in learning more about how the ANDERSON team can help your business stand out amongst the competition? Visit our website to discover all of our services and connect with us directly via email at email@example.com.