While many marketers think of “the competition” as those companies that share their particular niche or industry, the reality is that any business that reduces the amount of a consumer’s disposable income is a competitor.
Unlike their counterparts of the past, businesses today cannot afford to operate in a vacuum. There are simply too many goods and services competing for the attention – and the wallet – of the modern consumer. Savvy marketers of every size and stripe need to identify those direct as well as indirect competitors most likely to siphon off potential customers, and learn to prepare accordingly wherever possible.
If your company runs an SEO strategy to help boost your search engine rankings, your SEO services provider will likely conduct a competitive analysis as a preliminary to the actual campaign.
Studying Indirect Competitors Helps Your Business?
Aggressive competitors in other niches attract consumer dollars that might have been spent buying your products. Selling to your customers puts them in a perfect position to provide you with early warning signals of potential long-term problems that might help you stave off a disaster down the road.
The once clearly-drawn lines between many product categories are becoming blurred. Sneakers used to be simply footwear. Nowadays, they can also fit into the sporting goods category and in some cases, the medical (orthopedic shoes) niche. The more aware you are of trends and changes developing in the overall marketplace, the better position you’ll be in to adapt and survive.
Indirect competitors, especially those selling to your customers, can provide valuable intelligence and tips about your customers that can be used by your online marketing company in your marketing campaigns.
Exactly What Is Competitive Analysis?
When we speak of competitive analysis, we refer primarily to studying the strengths and weaknesses of your competition rather than a point by point comparison of product features and benefits. This information can be used to blunt the effectiveness of your competitor’s marketing as well as uncover opportunities to gain an edge in the marketplace. In the case of indirect competitors, you may receive a broad view of new developments that suggest new opportunities to exploit or warn of impending dangers to avoid.
Typically, competitor analysis will seek to answer questions such as:
- Who are my competitors?
- What are their strengths, and how could those strengths be used against me?
- What are my competitors’ weaknesses, and how could I exploit those weaknesses to my advantage
- What strategies are my competitors employing? Which appear to be successful? Which appear to unsuccessful?
- If I “shake things up” with a new strategy, how will my competitors likely respond?
Specific questions that your SEO consultant will want to have answered include:
- What keywords are my competitors targeting and how are they ranking compared to my web pages?
- How many unique website visitors are my competitors attracting in an average month?
- How many pages do my competitors have indexed?
- How many inbound links do my competitors have? What is the overall quality of their link profile?
If you are working with a local SEO service firm, they will typically want to know
- Whether your competitors have an optimized Google My Business profile.
- How many citations your competitors have.
- How many positive online reviews your competitors have.
Where Can I Find Information About My Competitors?
The main source of information about your competitors will probably come from secondary research sources that are usually easy to find and access. This is information that already exists and simply needs to be collected as opposed to hiring someone to do expensive market research. In many cases, certain details will be difficult to find and you’ll have to rely on your best guesses. Here’s a list of where to look to help you get you started:
- Your competitor’s website
- Ads and sales brochures
- Newspaper and magazine articles
- Radio, television, and video interviews
- Your own salespeople and other employees
- Trade Associations and Chambers of Commerce
- Former employees of your competitors
- “Secret Shopper” style visits or phone calls to your competitor’s store
- Trade shows and exhibits that your competitors participates in