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What Can You Learn From Your Competition?

“Know your enemy” is a popular battle tactic, but when it comes to dominating sales and revenue in your industry, “know they’re not your enemy they’re your teacher” is a better approach to take.

Observing successes and failures from those around you can give you powerful insight into what will and won’t work for your own business. It’s not about copying what others do hoping you’ll see better results, it’s about strategically understanding your market to drive the results that align with your goals.

Here’s some of the things you can learn directly from your competitors: 

1. Who The Competition Is (And Is Not) 

In business, you will have direct and indirect competition. Direct competition is businesses who offer a similar product, service or experience to you and are likely to be marketing to the same clientele. Indirect competition is the other choices your customers may make. 

For example, if you make craft beer, your direct competition is the other brews that people could order from the bar. Indirect competition for the craft beer brewer would be other beverages like wine or cocktails.

Sometimes indirect competition can require some expanded thinking – for example, if you’re developing an app to engage with your membership community your direct competition is other creators in your niche. Your indirect competition includes things like Instagram and other social media platforms because that’s how your members may spend their online downtime. 

2. What Your Customers Like (And Don’t Like)

There’s no denying that access to information about your competitors can sometimes be hard to come by – that’s why things like mystery shoppers and market research focus groups are still happening in 2022.

But there’s one easy way that you can find out exactly what your target demographic is thinking: read your competition’s reviews.

Don’t base business decisions off one person’s opinion, but if your competition is regularly being praised for something that you don’t offer, see how you can incorporate something similar while staying true to your brand and mission. If your competition is regularly being criticised for something that wouldn’t happen in your business, emphasise that in your marketing. 

3. How Their Numbers Add Up (And If Yours Do Too)

Now not all information will be readily and publicly available but you should be able to glean basic data to help you work out how you stack up. Spend some time exploring places like their websites – many companies and businesses include some statistics in their storytelling so it can give you somewhere to start, even if they don’t formally publish figures in an annual report. You can also explore things like how many staff they have quite easily on LinkedIn. Your local industry association may have access to figures that can help you too.

This kind of information can be really helpful when it comes to planning for your growth. 

4. What Content Works (Or Is Needed)  

Immerse yourself in your competitor’s digital content. You don’t want to directly copy them or draw too much inspiration too soon – customers see straight through that kind of thing. Imagine following two clothing brands on Instagram and one posts very similar reels, photos or stories right after the other.

Definitely look at your competitor’s tone, aesthetic and topics, but also make sure you look at their engagement. Do people like, share or comment on what they’re seeing? What do those comments say? Are there common questions being asked about industry topics you’re knowledgeable or experienced in that would make a great blog topic for your own website?

You can semi-automate this process with things like Google Alerts, Meta Business Suite and other proprietary applications that specifically do social media analysis of your competitors. 

A Few Benchmarking Tips 

Stay true to your business when you’re exploring what the competition is up to. Don’t be tempted to undercut their offering to poach market share because that kind of tactic has no winners. So before you get started it can be really helpful to revisit your own mission statement and strategic plan. That way you’ll filter your search results through the lense of what your business needs to know to succeed at what you want to do.

Don’t be afraid to set the benchmark either. As much as other people’s results and activities can help you, you can also be the change you want to see in your industry too.

Book a strategy call with the Greenfish Marketing team to discuss where you want your business to go, and how we can help you get there. 

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