Identify your competition
First off, select a list of no more than 10 organisations that you want to benchmark against. These competitors should all have a similar business model, product or service offering and target market to you. Here are some of the ways you can find out who your direct competitors are:
- Organic search: Google can do a lot of the legwork for you when it comes to finding out who your competition is. A simple search can help you identify organisations that offer similar services to you and target the same audience (in the same geographical area as you serve). It’s a good idea to include the keywords included in your organisation’s SEO and PPC strategies in your search terms to generate the most accurate results.
- Customer feedback: Once someone has decided to use your product or service, ask them which other organisations they were considering. This will help you identify who you’re up against in the minds of your target audience.
- Social media: Doing a keyword search on social media channels like LinkedIn or Meta can be helpful for identifying any other key players in your service area. For instance, a regional fostering service might search ‘foster a child in [INSERT REGION]’ to discover who those competitors might be.
Conduct market research
Once you’ve nailed down who your competitors are, you can start taking a deep dive into their marketing activity. Some questions you might want to ask yourself during this stage are:
- What is their product or service offering? And how does it compare with yours?
- How do they talk about and position themselves?
- What's their tone of voice?
- What does their brand look like?
- What are their USPs? How do they differentiate themselves?
- What online channels are they using? How much traffic do they get? And who is following them?
- What kind of engagement do they get online? And how does it compare with yours?
- What type of content are they producing? What methods are they using to engage and delight their audience? Does it highlight any gaps in your content marketing strategy?
- What do their customers say about them? Are there online reviews? What are people saying about them on social media?
Perform a SWOT analysis
Once you’ve gathered all the information you can find on your competitors, you can turn the focus back to your organisation by doing a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for:
Start by drawing up a simple SWOT analysis framework and asking yourself the following questions to fill each section:
- Strengths: What are we doing well? What have our customers told us they like about us?
- Weaknesses: Where could we do better? What things have our customers told us to improve on?
- Opportunities: Are there any emerging trends in our market that we could take advantage of? What strengths can we build on to add value to our audience?
- Threats: What are our competitors doing better than us? Are there any social/political/economic factors that might affect us?
Pinpoint your competitive advantage
Now you’ve completed the first three steps, it’s time to analyse your findings to determine your competitive advantage. This could either be focused around a particular strength you’ve identified and how you can leverage it. Or it could be about harnessing an opportunity that comes with pinpointing a weakness or threat. Once you’ve worked out exactly what your competitive advantage is, make sure your brand strategy is focused around it and that you’ve got a clear plan of action in place for actioning any changes that need to take place.
What’s certain is that your market can, and will, continually shift. So if you’re not regularly scoping out your competition then you likely won’t be aware of any opportunities or threats posed to your organisation until it’s too late.
But remember, a competitor analysis isn’t about copying what your competition is doing. It’s about understanding where your organisation fits in the market and identifying opportunities to stand out, and ultimately service your customer base in the best way possible.
If you found this blog interesting, why not check out our article on the importance of audience research?
October 5, 2023
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