Every business will have local competition, it goes without saying. Even if you are focused on a particular niche, there will likely be more established and longer running companies competing for your audience. However understanding your competitors can teach you a lot, and actually help leverage you above them in the marketplace.
Identify your top 5 competitors
As a key part of your digital research (and always the first step we take with a new client), we recommend you start by identifying your biggest competition; those 5 businesses both within your catchment or nationally who are offering a similar service. By seeing what each organisation is doing well, and where they are under-performing you are able to get an in-depth understanding of what works and where you can excel in order to stand out.
You may well already know who your competitors are, but if not a simple Google search will help you identify who is ranking in your marketplace – “UK Sales Training Companies” for example. Remember your goal and the litmus test to a successful digital strategy is for your business to be showing near the top of such a search!
What is their website like?
For now, don’t worry about how your online presence compares – that comes later. But do be honest when it comes to analysing what others are doing. Do they have a website? Is it easy to navigate? How is the design? If you were a customer would it pull you in or would you move on to the next search result?
A website is a big part of any organisation, offering a source of information, positioning your authority, and giving a strong sense of who you are and what you offer.
Do they have a blog?
Nowadays everyone is blogging, but not all blogs are created equal. We regard a good blog as central to a successful strategy as a way to relay information and offer free quality content to your potential audience. Look through older posts and see what type of subjects they are writing about, the length, tone of voice. Are there any comments showing the audience are engaged with the post? Are they posting weekly or once a year?
You may decide a blog isn’t the way forward for your company or you simply don’t have the time to dedicate to it just now, but at least you are aware what your competitors are offering their audience and know what you need to be doing now or in the future in order to match them.
What social media platforms do they use?
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube… all are commonplace in today’s market and are often the first places someone will look to get a sense of your business with posts giving an instant snapshot. Not every platform will work for every organisation, for example Facebook and Instagram will likely be the most popular choice for companies with a strong visual representation, whereas LinkedIn and Twitter are best for those looking to network and grow their audience.
That said, there are no rules when it comes to social media so see what others are using and how it’s working for them.
Look at what type of content they’re posting – is it mostly images or video? Are they promoting their website or any events they may offer? Do they make use of live streaming? Make a note of which feeds are posting on a daily basis or if they’ve been neglected over the months. Do a thorough search to really gain as much information as you can; you might find many platforms go up and down as staff come and go or other things get in the way of effective scheduling.
Although follower size should be acknowledged, it is the level of engagement from the audience which is key as this shows how interested those people actually are in the content going out. You can easily accrue a large following, but having the right audience is crucial for successful social media – there is no point broadcasting to thousands if they are never going to convert into customers. Look at the numbers of likes, shares / retweets and comments to see what kind of reaction posts are getting, and see if it is in fact the target audience making the most noise.
Why understanding your competitors is important
Digital Media Edge pride ourselves on our “strategy before tactics approach” and by identifying what the local competition are doing, you see where you can capitalise on platforms you know will generate interest and break into those that your competition have yet to master. And remember – if your competitors aren’t doing something, it doesn’t necessary mean that it doesn’t work. It just means no one else is trying it, and you could be the one to start leading the trend…
This research can then form the basis of your tactical implementation, helping you understand what you need to do going forward to exceed your competitors’ digital delivery and more importantly, why.