No matter what your niche is, your competition can help you to promote your business in ways that you’d never thought were possible. You just need to know what to look for and what to apply.
There is a lot to be said for benefiting from the efforts and successes of others. Not having to spend resources such as manpower, energy, time and money on discovering which products will sell and where to get customers from is something of outstanding value to any business.
We’re going to discover how to take a short-cut to success, without needing to go through the frustration of the learning curve. After all, why put yourself through the agony of it when somebody else has already done this and the results are there for you to view and learn from. Your competition can help you with cutting back on spend and effort.
“Don’t reinvent the wheel, just re-align it” – Anthony J D’Angelo
What is selling and how?
Knowing which products and services sell well and how you need to sell them is what will enable you to make good profits. The best way to approach this is to research your competitors, then take what you have learnt and apply your own slant on this – either by applying it to your products or by offering something just a little bit better. You can also find out where to get new prospects from using this method.
Don’t worry.. all is fair in love and war and your competition is freely sharing this information, so you should use it to your best effects.
Who are your competitors?
To get started on taking action for this concept, we need to find out who are competitors are. Some of these you will most likely have already identified, and others we will have to look for by looking at advertising. This advertising might be their own, such as websites and social media sites, or it might be third party advertising where they are using blog sites for an advert or guest blog post.
In the offline and online worlds, you can find successful competitors by looking to see what ads you see on a regular basis. If over a period of months the ad is still appearing, then it must be working successfully otherwise. An ad that is not working would not be worth spending the money on if there is no return. Of course, this isn’t always the case, sometimes people will just keep paying out for an ad. They won’t track the results, so they don’t know if it’s bringing them customers. However, in most cases, you’ll find these ads will provide you with the information that you need and you can see what’s working. Your competition can help you in many ways.
Places where you may find these adverts include the niche publications that are related to your business line, local media including newspaper and radio in addition to mailing campaigns. Sign up to any mailing list that your competitor offers, both online and offline so that you can study their techniques and products. If need be, go to your local library and study the back issues of publications.
In the online world, this will mean using a search engine with words that would describe your own business niche.
If you use Google you will then see the search engine results down the left and ads across the top and down the right. Across the top and down the right hand side are the paid ads. Looking into these will give you an idea of some other companies that perhaps did not make it to the top of the search engine results but who are willing to pay money to get noticed. They have paid money to appear whenever anybody enters the search terms that you just did.
By looking at the website of the business, you’ll be able to view which keywords they are using to draw in searches. You’ll also be able to get a feel for the tone of voice that they’re using to speak to the target market. Social media will give you another huge amount of information. You’ll be able to discover which channels they are using to access their target market in addition to what they’re posting to influence and get noticed.
Research your competition’s online presence
So what we need to discover from looking at our competition is the following:
- what do they sell?
- how are they selling their products?
- the prices?
- how are they advertising – this includes how they are using social media to promote themselves
- how does this compare to your strategies?
- do they have a website? which social media channels are they using?
- do they have paid for followers, or do they look to be real (you can usually tell by looking at how many people respond to their posts)
- how many visitors do they have going to their website?
- what information is on their website?
- what special features do they offer such as service offerings, purchase methods etc?
- What are they claiming about their products?
- What proof are they offering to the consumer? Ie customer testimonials, pictorial, stats, guarantees?
How can this information about your competition help you?
Whatever you discover, don’t go and do the same thing immediately. For example, if you discover that they have got a lot of followers on social media that look like they’ve been paid for from a supplier, you don’t want this. You do not want paid for followers – no matter what. This will only confuse the situation.
It’s far better to have followers that you’ve collected yourself. For a start, you know that they are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. You can also learn far more about the target market that you’ve collected yourself and this can prove to be valuable later on down the line.
Let me give you a demonstration. I once worked with a fashion firm who had invested in paying for Facebook followers but the people connected to them didn’t even speak English as they were from Brazil. This was for a British firm. You don’t want to put good money into failed promotion tactics. After all, there are plenty of other places that you can use that money on where it can get results. Your competion can help you to identify where it is worth spending the money too.
A competitive analysis will help you to claim their market space
To do a full competitive analysis you would need to study strengths and weaknesses of each competitor. These can be as simple as the location to personal relationships that you know are keeping their business in good shape. You could be competing against one person running a home business (such as a home baker – did somebody say ‘cupcake!’? Yum) or a company with a team. In some cases you may be competing against a large business. Your strength as a business might be your personal touch and that you may offer lower prices.
Further research on your competition
It’s worth having a look around online. As I said, your competition can help you to promote your business and it’s worth the time.
Online you can find out various pieces of information about the website of your competition by looking them up on www.alexa.com.
Enter the website address and then you can see where they rank on the Alexa scale of websites. The lower the number, the more traffic the site has and the more websites linking to it. What website links they have is very interesting and can be reused for you to market your own site.
Some websites spend time making their own internal links so as to improve the ranking of their site on both Alexa and most importantly for the search engines. We will get into this on another post. Other sites provide such useful information that people want to link to them and then they gain status and power with the search engines by having a multitude of links. We will look more at links later on.
On Alexa you can also see how much traffic they have had (but only if the website is in the top 100,000 websites), what search terms are used for the site to be reached by web users and also a snapshot of the demographics of the audience.
Another site that can provide you with even more information is www.rank2traffic.com It’s a free service. You can see what type of information that they can give by looking at my website on there. I did not use my website for many years after 2011, so the visits that it did get were not from blog posts. Quite fascinating that my site was doing so well with my original blogging efforts. Anyway.. that’s going a little bit off our track.
Other ways that your competition can help you
Another way to check what keywords a website is using is to just click on View —-> Page Source of the Firefox internet browser or Page —-> View Source on Internet Explorer. You can then usually see the keywords of the site listed. They will usually be after the word keywords. We will come back to keywords for your site later.
SEO Spyglass by SEO PowerSuite is a fantastic tool that I have had great success with in the past for the websites of clients. Not only will this tool show you the strategy of your competitors website and linking, it will let you know how they link to them so that you can compete. You don’t have to struggle to find out which sites might be suitable, you just use this tool and look at what is already in operation for your competition with ‘x-ray’ eyes.
It will also provide you with the email address of the web masters for each of the sites that you competition is linking to. However, we haven’t really got down to using different website strategies for marketing yet, so we will come back to this in another module. Later on, we’ll also be looking at how we can use Twitter to ‘steal’ some of the followers of our competition. Yes, your competition can help you in many ways.
Your competitors can provide you with a lot of FREE information
So in summary, you can see for yourself that your competitors can provide you with a lot of answers and can save you a lot of trouble. I always check out the competition of my clients to get a gauge of how they compare and to see what is successful for them. It’s something well worth doing and can save you time, energy and a lot of money! Your competition can help you to promote your business without having to expend all the effort that they have put into place to get them this far.
If you’re looking at understanding how your business can get better established online, you might be interested in my bespoke marketing plan. You can read more about it by clicking on the link. If you have any questions, drop me a line.
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