If you really want to get a leg up on your business competition and give your business plan a head start, some ‘spying’ will likely be required. And it even has a name: competitive analysis. This strategy has been used for so many years that it’s become essential for any business who wants to market and plan effectively to know what’s happening on the other side of the fence.
What Competitive Analysis Is Not
First of all, analysing your competition doesn’t mean that you will be stealing any ideas from them. Rather, competitive analysis is discovering what your competition does and doesn’t do well so that you can develop your own unique success strategy.
How to Analyse your Competition Effectively
There are several ways to ensure that you conduct an effective analysis of your competition. Whether you complete one or all, they will all provide insight into what does – or doesn’t – make the competition a success.
Look at their web site – this goes beyond simply checking out what your competition’s site looks like; here, you can discover their strategy for getting a high ranking on the search engines as well. A site’s SEO strategy can be analysed via several tools, many of which are provided by search engines like Google as part of their suite of SEO offerings.
Content marketing – content marketing refers to the types of communication your competition uses. Are they fond of publishing articles on other sites, or do they publish their own content on a blog? How often do they publish, and in what formats? Although this facet of competitive analysis won’t provide you with a concrete value, what it will do is give you insight into the overall performance of their content based on their frequency of publication, relevance, quality, type and audience. This information can then be applied to your own strategy, allowing you the information you need to improve it.
Social Media – Whilst this could also be considered to be content marketing, today, social media is really on its own as a strategy. Find out what your competition’s favourite social media haunts are, and then observe how they are doing. To do this, you will need to note not only how many followers they have, but how frequently they post, as well as what they tend to post and to whom it is targeted. Looking at how quickly an audience responds to what is posted can also provide plenty of insight.
Industry report analysis – if your competition is a PLC or Limited Company, they may have listings with any number of business agencies, commissions or offices that deal with things like trademarks and patents. This can provide you with lots of detail about how the company is growing and what new products they may be offering in the near future.
Get them to work for you – while some may cringe at the thought of hiring the competition, the benefits of doing so can be multiple. Even better is if you can partner with your competitor, as this way both companies can benefit from each other’s strengths, which offers advantages to all.
Investing some time into analysing your competitors can bring you many returns. Of course, the most straightforward way to get the information you’re looking for is to ask your competition directly. Although it may be a daunting prospect at first, but you may be surprised at the amount of information you receive. But you may want to conduct a little research into the points above before querying any company, as this will give you the information you need to ask the right questions.