You need to know who your competition is to know what you’re up against. To know why your customers might go elsewhere. It’s one of the grim sides of marketing that some people forget about, but it’s necessary in order to be successful. While we can’t tell you exactly who your competition is, we can help guide you so you know how to research them. Ultimately, you should know about the area that your company operates in, whether it’s in cosmetics, fashion, computing, or any sector, and with that, you should know what to look out for in your competition.
There’s so much research that you could conduct, and you can easily end up in an endless black hole, so you need to know what to research before you go diving in. You’ll also need to stay up-to-date with what your competition is doing, along with any new competitors that may arise, so that you can coax your customers to you instead of them. In order for you to give your customers a reason to go to you instead of your competitors, you need to know who your competitors are, what they are doing, and how they are doing it.
It can be hard to know where to start when finding your competition, especially if it is a relatively new business venture. Here are a few places you can look to find out who your competition is:
Do a Google search of what you think your customers will type when they should be finding you (ideally before your website goes live, if you aim to have one). For example, if you are looking to make and sell your own homemade chocolate, you might search ‘homemade chocolate’, ‘food gifts’, or even just ‘chocolate’.
Browse social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn to see what appears on searches of hashtags and phrases relating to your business, product or service. You’ll also often come across ‘Similar Accounts’ or ‘Suggested Profiles’, which can help you determine other accounts that your potential customers could be following.
Attend relevant events like conferences, networking events or trade shows to see who is exhibiting, presenting or attending.
Talk to your customers, employees and other stakeholders - they will have invaluable information on your competitors that you may not be able to find in ‘public’ places, like Google, on social media and in conferences.
Conduct a survey to determine who people think your competition is. This can have a cost, especially if you don’t have any customers at this point.
Use Google Alerts to track relevant industry news and where it is coming from.
Go on foot (if applicable) to where your customers might go if they were searching for your product or service to see what you might come across.
Here’s a breakdown of some information it can be useful to gather on competitors:
Name (and location if relevant)
What their products or services are, and how much they cost
Their USP (unique selling point) - what makes them different from everyone else, why do customers go to them?
How they promote themselves - which platforms they use (social media, website, TV adverts, newspaper adverts, blog, etc.)
What their customers think of them (websites such as TrustPilot can be useful for this)
This should help you get started on researching your competition, but it’s important to remember that this isn’t a simple job that you can do once. You need to regularly keep up-to-date with your competitors, know what they’re doing and who they are, in order to keep your company and product/service fresh, relevant and in with a fighting chance.