The Smartest Way To Do Competitive Research

Marketing

Here’s the thing: you can’t set yourself apart from your competitors if you don’t know who they are and how they’re different from you. So, you need to do some recon to know where you sit amongst everyone else already in your space. Read along for an easy, step-by-step guide to completing your competitive research.


Competitive Research

You need to understand the competitive landscape so you can see where you fit. You need to know what the competition is doing and how they stand out. When you start your business, you’re the new one in town. It’s like walking into a networking event. How much better prepared are you when you know who’s going to be there and you can do a little cyber stalking before you attend versus walking in and having no idea who’s going to be there. Competitive research is like prepping for that networking event. 

Competitive research, also called competitive analysis, can be intense. Don’t let it be. Keep it simple. 

Open Google Sheets and start gathering this information for about 5 of your competitors:

  • The look/feel of their website
  • Brand messaging
  • Services
  • Their differentiators
  • Digital presence 
  • Social presence (accounts + follower count)
  • Their marketing funnel
  • Pricing
The look/feel of their website

What’s your immediate reaction to their website? Casual, buttoned up, sloppy, design focused, witty, etc? Screenshot the “above the fold” section of their website. (Above the fold is what you see before you scroll.) Then give every website 5 descriptive words. Put all this in your spreadsheet.

Brand messaging

How do they talk about themselves? What words do they use to persuade website visitors? Copy/paste their taglines, headlines, and anything else that delivers a consistent message into your spreadsheet. 

Services

What services or products are they offering? If they don’t articulate that very well, notate that.  List them out in our spreadsheet.

Differentiators

This one is important. You need to understand how they are setting themselves apart from everyone else. What do they have that others don’t? For some, you might have a hard time deciphering what makes them different. That’s an example of what NOT to do. Even so, try to understand what you believe makes them different. For example, Daymond John’s FUBU brand differentiates itself with “for us by us”. Nike is a competitor but they can’t claim the “us” factor like FUBU can. 

Digital presence

Simply put, where are they online? Do they have a blog? Do they have press features? Use sites like SEMRush to see where their website traffic is coming from. Do they guest post on other sites or are they guests on podcasts? Where are they leaving breadcrumbs of their brand?

Social presence

Here are some questions you want to answer: What channels are they using? What’s their follower count? Does their audience engage with their account (likes, comments, shares). Do they post consistently? Which account(s) do they focus on? What kind of content are they sharing? Is it aspirational? Informative? Humorous?   

Marketing funnel

How are they capturing leads? Do they offer a free download? If so, download it. What follow up emails do you get from them? Do they have a newsletter? Opt in for it. What do they send? What do they offer on are their social media channels (check their bio)? You want to get a feel for how they are nurturing visitors and lurkers into customers. 

Pricing

As simple as it sounds. How are they pricing their products and services? 


Put all this info to work

When you’re done, it’s time to decide where you fit. Who’s killing it and why? What can you replicate from their process? Is pricing fairly consistent across your competitors? Or, maybe it’s common to not list prices. What do you like/not like about how your competitors are positioning themselves? How do you want to be different?

Warning: sometimes after you’ve looked at your competitors you catch copy-itis or comparison-itis. If you LOVE what a competitor is doing, take inspiration. But don’t compare your beginning to their middle and do not become a parrot of them. You need to develop your own voice branding...which brings us to the next section of part 3. 


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The Smartest Way To Do Competitive Research
The Smartest Way To Do Competitive Research