“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”
Only about 50% of small businesses make it to their fifth year. Although there are many factors involved in these failures, one of the most common is competition. The truth is, no matter what service you provide, there is or will be competition that you must stand out from.
The Importance of Competitor Research
We think you’re special. We know there’s something you have to offer that no one else can. The trick is to figure out what that thing is and shout it from the rooftops. You can figure this out by performing competitor research.
Competitor research allows you to look at competitors in your market, see what they’re doing and how you can shake things up. When it comes to writing website copy, competitor research helps you:
- Discover what you can do differently
- Find where you fit in the marketplace, so you can communicate effectively
- Build a content strategy by understanding what others in your niche are doing
How to Perform Competitor Research in 3 Simple Steps
You won’t need a lab coat for this. In fact, to perform basic competitor research, you only need to follow a few simple steps. Let’s jump right in, shall we?
1. Create a Spreadsheet
You’ll need a place to keep all of your findings, notes, thoughts and inspiration. We find that a spreadsheet works best. Create a simple spreadsheet using Excel, Google Sheets or another program you enjoy.
What Should You Track?
Your spreadsheet will be a deep dive into each of your competitors’ online presences. In your spreadsheet, you should track each competitor’s:
- Target audience
- Key services
- Website pages
You’ll also want to make notes of the key differentiators between their business and yours. Leave plenty of room—inspiration often strikes hard during this process.
2. Make a List of Known & Unknown Competitors
Next, create a list of competitors that you know. Then, do a quick online search for competitors that you may not know yet. Focus on 5-10 competitors at first (or else you’ll be talking to caterpillars down the rabbit hole).
Finding competitors is usually pretty simple. Search for businesses who do what you do. Try competitors close to your location as well as businesses in other locations. They should be similar enough to your business to warrant more research.
3. Visit Your Competitor’s Websites
Now that you have a solid list, it’s time to do some actual research. Visit each competitor’s website and fill out your spreadsheet. One quick tip:
Put on your customer hat.
As you read your competitor’s website copy, visit their blog and learn about their services, remember to think like your customer. How would your customer feel while reading their copy? How would you improve it to better fit your customer?
During your research, look for the golden nuggets—the things you deliver that the majority of the other businesses do not. This is the time to get creative and really compare and contrast your competitors with your business. Any difference, large or small, can be a nugget that sets your business apart from the rest.
Also, pay attention to their content strategy. You can go beyond the website and visit their social media accounts, as well. This will help you create a content strategy backbone that fits your audience.
Find Where You Fit and Rise Above the Noise
There’s so much noise out there: ads, blog posts, emails, tweets, pins, e-newsletters…the list goes on. The only way to stand out is to find your sweet spot: the place where your business delivers what your customers want in a unique way.
You can rise above the noise by getting to know your business’s competition. Leverage the tidbits you uncover during your research to help grow your business. To learn more about competitor research or rising above the online noise, send us a message.