How to Research Competitors

A little competition is a good thing. It can inspire you to be more creative with your business strategy, and push it to be the best it can be.

By Cat HowPosted in Ideas

I've always believed in a bit of healthy competition. Being aware of what others in your field are doing - either by researching how they became successful, or learning from their mistakes - is an important part of business, and business strategy.

The best steps to take in order to research your competition effectively are:

  1. Establishing who your competitors are. This can be done by a simple Google search; finding online networks for the industry you are in who might list similar businesses; or by asking your own network of contacts for anyone they might be aware of that you might not be.
  2. Research what their customers are saying about them. Read reviews on social networks, blogs and forums. What do their customers like about their business? What do they not?
  3. Analyse their marketing strategy. Look at where they are concentrating their efforts (on their website, social media, or newsletters?) and see if it might make sense for your business and your products to market in the same areas.
  4. Analyse how they brand themselves. Do you think this is harming or enhancing their image? What can you learn from this and apply to how you present and position yourself?
  5. Analyse their prices. Are they charging more than you, or less? Do you agree with the prices they charge and believe you can charge those too?

At Polleni we do all of the above when we conduct our competitor analysis as part of our brand strategy process.

Competitor analysis is a research process that seeks to benchmark a brand against others in the same sector or market. This can help define what makes a brand unique by analysing what factors customers look at when choosing between rival companies.

The competitor analysis we conduct in the agency has two primary aims. Firstly, to obtain information about important competitors; and secondly to use that information to predict competitor behaviour.

Ideally, the information gleaned from competitor analysis will be used to help us work out:

  • Who your competition is
  • What your competitors' strategies and planned actions are
  • How to influence your competitors' behaviours to your own advantage

Casual knowledge about competitors usually doesn't give us all the information we need. It's often worth digging deeper and looking at annual shareholder reports, interviews with analysts, statements by managers and press releases (where relevant). This can take time... but it is always worth it. So be patient.

We also look at important existing competitors as well as potential competitors who might enter a client's industry - either by extending their present strategy or by vertically integrating.

Ultimately, with competitor research (perhaps like most things in life) it is always good to think outside the box.

Just like we do in the agency - use the information you uncover about your competitors to fuel your creativity. Use it as an opportunity to generate new avenues for marketing and branding, and to get inspiration to improve your own website, products or customer service. That way you can amplify your own business, as well as also beating the competition!

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