Small business marketers should always have a handle on who their competitors are and how they stack up against the competition. While it sounds overwhelming, competitor research doesn’t have to be that time-consuming. A simple review of your top competitors will help you understand how your company can compete, where you’ve got the leading edge, and where you may need to improve to get more business. Here’s a brief overview of competitor analysis and how to do it.

What is competitor analysis?

competitive analysisA competitor analysis, also known as a competitive analysis, is the process of identifying your competitors and assessing their strategies to determine their strengths and weaknesses compared to your own business, product, and service. The goal of the competitor analysis is to gather the intelligence needed to find a line of attack and develop your go-to-market strategy. It can help you identify where the “enemies” are and how they’re approaching the business. It can help you discover strategic areas where you can position yourself for a win.

What does a competitor analysis entail?

While there are many competitor analysis tools you can use, some quite extensive and some quite basic, most will give you insights in the following areas:

  • Current marketing conditions in your industry
  • Strengths and weaknesses of competitors (and how you compare)
  • New ideas to approach the market to gain a better market share

Seems pretty straightforward, right? Sadly, very few small businesses ever do competitive research, yet doing so can help small businesses stand out from the competition. If you want to stand out from your competition, you have to be different from them. If you want to build a strong brand, you must pinpoint precisely what makes you unique. You must utilize competitive differentiators.

How to do a competitor analysis

checklistReady to “spy” on your competition?! First, gather a checklist of your top competitors. Research more than just one or two; three to ten is a good sampling depending on your industry. There are many competitor analysis tools out there to help you quickly and efficiently assess how you stack up against your top competitors. Here’s a great list that Sprout Social put together:

  • Sprout Social
  • Phlanx
  • Social Blade
  • SEMRush
  • Ahrefs
  • MozBar
  • Buzzsumo
  • Similarweb
  • Feedly
  • Mailcharts
  • Owletter
  • iSpionage
  • Owler

Some tools are free; some are paid. Some are very basic, and some are quite comprehensive. Regardless of which one(s) you use, each will walk you through what you need to get the insights you’re looking for. Areas you should look at include content, social media, and SEO to help hone your marketing efforts with this knowledge.

What you should get out of your research

marketing ideasIt’s easy to go into information overload, so keep these basics in mind that you’ll want to get from your research. First, you should now have a feel overall about who they are, what they offer, what their pricing is, and how they market themselves. Second, armed with this information, you can now have a better idea of how you compete with other businesses on price, quality of service, products, market penetration, etc. Having this understanding can help you better craft your marketing message, positioning your messaging to highlight your strengths and perhaps even targeting marketing channels your competitor is weak in or not even pursuing. Determine the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors within your market and then create strategies that will provide you with a distinct advantage. These can inspire great marketing ideas! If you’re not sure what to do with all this newfound information, engage the services of a small business marketing professional to help you craft a strategy based on these insights.

A competitor analysis is a powerful way to strengthen your marketing by having insights to craft your message better. If you’ve never done an analysis, or if it’s been a while, take the time to engage in this process to help elevate your business.

Patty Hughes
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