The business world is highly competitive. You must outshine your direct competition, but you also have to wow customers and draw their attention from the thousands of other distractions they face each day.
There are around 30.7 million small businesses in America alone. Companies with under 100 employees make up the most significant part of small businesses. Your small business may compete with other small businesses. At other times, you’ll face big-box retailers and their race-to-the-bottom prices and perfectly triangulated marketing schemes.
No matter what size opponent you face, the process for analyzing your challengers remains the same. Going through the steps to investigate and implement change is the only way to gain an edge and outsmart your competition.
1. Target Their Audience
One of your first moves as a small business owner should be figuring out who your target audience is. Your next step is figuring out who the target audience of your competition is. Perhaps you overlooked a potential customer base. Maybe you want to expand and reach more people.
Whatever the reason, pay careful attention to their advertising. What audience segment does it speak to? Refine your ads to reach the same demographic. Use tools on Facebook, YouTube and other social media sites to narrow the results and deliver advertisements only to specific segments.
2. Map Their Coverage
Spend time mapping out what areas your competitors cover. You may find they don’t serve a neighborhood near you. Fill the gap and reach out to those people.
You should also map your own coverage so you gain insights into which areas you’re already serving and places you might want to add to your calling area. Use the results to create sales territories and find new opportunities.
3. Optimize Your Conversion Rates
Once you drive people to your website, you want to capture as many of them as possible as leads. Pay attention to how your competitors convert browsers into buyers.
Understand the stages of the buyer’s journey and make a list of which pages on the competition’s website cater to each phase. What kinds of calls to action (CTAs) do they use? Is there a video? How can you improve your pages so they’re even better than others?
4. Set Up Google Alerts
Want to spy on your competitors covertly? Set up Google Alerts with the name of other companies. Google sends an email whenever the other brand gets a mention, news coverage or a link in an article. At a minimum, you should have equal effort.
5. Create an Editorial Calendar
The more content you have, the easier it is to promote your brand on social media. Creating new content and staying on top of all the other aspects of running a business is overwhelming. One thing that helps is making an editorial calendar.
A schedule of what to create, along with when and where and how to post content to social media, keeps you accountable. It also helps your team see what needs completing and jump in where needed.
As you create your schedule, take note of how often and what types of content your competitors publish. Offer something unique, but pay attention to the timing and the time of day things get posted.
6. Take Out YouTube Ads
Ever watched a video on YouTube and had to wait for an ad before watching the actual segment you came for? We all have. Now, imagine your ad showing before your competitor’s video. You take all their hard work in promoting their brand and superimpose yours on top with only a small marketing budget.
Figure out what keywords the video ranks for. You can do this by searching on Google and seeing what videos pop up for specific keywords. Take note of the keywords. Tools such as Keywords Everywhere can also help you figure out additional related keywords. Since Google serves up videos at the top of many results pages now, so you should have several things to work with.
Next, view the actual video and figure out how to grab the user’s attention before they see what the competitor has to say. If the video is about how the other company has fast service, create a short ad about your fast service and how it’s more reliable than anyone else in the industry. Find your unique value proposition (UVP) as it relates to the video and present your case.
7. Advertise via Competitor Emails
If you have a Gmail account, you’ve likely noticed the ads at the top of some emails. These are paid slots targeting specific phrases. There’s no rule you can’t use a company’s name as one of your keywords. If you want to compete with ABC Stuff, you use their company name as one of the targets. People who receive an email from them suddenly see ads for you, their competition.
8. Expand Your Knowledge
You may feel like you’re facing a world of giants with competition coming from every direction. Your company may even be the smallest of the bunch. However, you can always learn more and show off your expertise.
Go to seminars in your industry. Call suppliers and talk to them about the processes they use and what makes materials last longer. Go to trade shows, talk to customers and seek out mentors in your field of work.
Anything you can do to expand your knowledge gives you an edge. When people have a question about a topic related to what you do, you want your name to be the first one that comes to mind.
The best thing you can do to gain an edge over your competitors is to pay careful attention to what they say and do. When they launch a new advertising campaign, study it carefully. What works well? Repeat their positive efforts in your unique way and avoid their mistakes. Have fun in the process and always put your customers at the center of your efforts. With a bit of fancy footwork, you’ll beat out anyone trying to come up against your business.