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Lesson 4: Researching Competition

Problems:

  • Your USP (unique sales proposition) is unclear which means your customers don’t know what is “special” about you and your brand.
  • Your competition are doing a better job of marketing their USP.

Solutions:

  • Relate your USP to your audiences issues or wants.
  • Create a “shopping list” which we talk more about in our consulting sessions.

Without Having To:

  • Spy on your competition.

Watching what competitors do is helpful for a lot of obvious reasons, but some are less obvious. The obvious reasons are:

  • Pricing. You can see what they are doing to compete.
  • Guarantees.
  • Options available.
  • Website content differences.
  • What schedules they run.
  • Number of posts per day etc.

Some of the lesser noticed things to pay attention to are.

  • What people say about them in reviews, What they like and don’t like – write these all down in a pros and cons list.
  • What your competitors pay consistently to advertise. If they are consistently paying for advertising their ads must be profitable in some direct or indirect way. So what are they paying for on a consistent basis. Keywords in adwords and ads in adwords or social media.
  • Unique selling proposition. What do they claim to do better than you or their other competition?
  • What are the perceived standards for the type products or services you provide. In other words, what is a customers definition of quality or value when they talk about a type of product? When you think of Rolex watches you think of quality and high-end right? When you think of Walmart you think of value for money. When you think of Ikea you think of low-cost Scandinavian design. What category do you want your brand to be in or are you in currently? How do you differ from other brands?
  • What types of content do competitors publish or syndicate?
  • What types of messages do competitors share with audiences?

You can use competitor research in many ways. For example, you can recycle competitors messages using them (or version of them) yourself to infer that you also do what they do or better. Obviously trademarked statements like Nikes “Just Do It” can’t be used.

By having a clear idea of what your audience is used to seeing, or what they expect, you can shape perceptions around your own brand and tie that in with your unique USP (unique selling proposition).

You can then promote your own angle – as doing something differently or better.

Reviews

Go to Amazon, support forums, Facebook comments or even Ebay reviews to see what people expect from your types of products or services. Write down what they are happy about, what they complain about and most of all what is most important to them.

Competitor Advertising

Where are your competitors currently paying for advertising? If they are paying for ads over a reasonable time frame, then you can safely guesstimate that they are getting some kind of return on that advertising. So go look at their landing pages and see what they are doing with that traffic. What pages are they sending traffic to. Try and ascertain WHY they are doing this, what is working in other words.

You can learn a lot about how your competitors are converting people by reverse engineering the path of a visitor backward from the landing pages to the ads they run.

USP’s

What are your competitors USP’s – Unique Selling Propositions? How can you use those with YOUR content? Standardise their USP’s as “normal” if you can. If you do all of the same things, talk about them as something your audience should expect. Of course your company includes what competitors do and therefore those things are nothing special. Then you can point out YOUR USP’s as stand out features. If they do have something completely different as USP’s (which really are unique), then you can do the opposite and talk about other companies may offer X, and maybe explain why your products and services make their USP’s an insignificant difference.

Publications

What kind of content do your competition syndicate, re-publish from other sources? What content is most popular? This may tell you what their (and possibly your) audiences respond to.

Messages

Keep an eye out for mottos, by-lines and common phrases your competitors use. If they are not proprietary or trademarked, you may be able to use some (ethically utilized) combinations of these in your Search Engine Optimisation of pages.

We will delve into this later, but this can be a powerful, way to capture organic traffic from terms that were intended to find your competitors brand or website.

Write down observations, to form a picture of how you can combine popular terms, or content to attract attention to your own brand.

Download the Lesson 4 Worksheet (PDF)

Add these to the audience profiles you have just completed.

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