When you begin your marketing efforts with a new business, it can get easy to get caught up in feelings of being dominated by your competitors. But competitors are often an untapped source of data and a great way to sanity check your products and your marketing.
That’s why it’s important to check in with your business and make decisions based on what you know.
Understanding your competitors is oh so important when you’re a new business. Here’s why
What is classed as an existing industry?
This is where you’re doing something that is similar to your direct competitors. You also have the luxury of knowing your customers will understand what you do because they’re already using the products and services available. They understand what you sell. Maybe they don’t understand why you’re the better business for the job.
I am clarifying this now as there are subtle differences when approaching a new business entering an existing market. I will talk about resegmenting a market and entering a new market later on in another blog(s).
Here are some of the ways your competitors may influence your decision-making process with a new business
Who are your competitors?
If you’re a new business, you have to know who you are up against. Be honest with yourself when it comes to assessing what they do better than you. But don’t neglect to ask yourself where your product and/or service may be better, too. Understanding where you fit into the market and what makes you different matters. Both in terms of your appeal and theirs.
Pro tip: Knowing your customer means you can better shape your point of difference. That point of difference is what stands out to a curious customer.
What share of the market do your competitors have?
Looking at market data can really help you notice where the gaps in a market are. It can also demonstrate what you are up against. Looking at existing research, your competitor’s customer volume and territory claims, as well as conducting your own research about visibility can all help you form a better picture.
Pro tip: What you’re looking for are overlooked customer bases that you can woo. And also checking to see if your competitor’s approach works as much as they claim it does.
Where can you find their marketing and advertising?
Check out all the places you expect to see your competitors and take note of where they are. Make it your business to know your competitor’s promotions and sales. Also, look for the opportunity they may be missing out on in this regard. You can match this with data such as social media analytics, Google analytics, industry reports, advertising news and more to get a full and complete picture.
Pro tip: The aim of the game is to identify potential places you can market to customers where your competitors may not be. Be the new business with the fresh outreach. Zig while they zag.
How strong are they on these platforms and advertising?
There’s a difference between marketing and advertising and being effective with it. Knowing the weaknesses a brand may have on social media creates opportunity for you to outshine them. It may also identify weaknesses of your own that you can correct.
Pro tip: Don’t take on the 900-pound gorilla. Understand whether you’re about to spend an awful lot of money against someone who has a particular platform or form of advertising sewn up. And pivot accordingly.
Are your competitors neglecting your customer base in any way?
As a new business, you should have this as part of your product design because the reason why you exist is because the competitor has left a gap. But you can go deeper still. Take a moment to check in and see if social media queries are being met with tumbleweeds. Scout out the review platforms like Google My Business, Yelp, Choice, LocalSearch, and others to see what others are saying. Are your competitors missing a beat with customer service? Is it hard to understand what you are buying via their web copy? Are they sick of paying for postage or shipping or some kind of service? Do customers that purchase feel neglected when they need support? What are the ways that your competitor’s customers feel genuinely dissatisfied?
Pro tip: Look for the ways you can make the customers feel like their gripes are being looked after. Use the complaints to inform your customer service policies.
What advertising potentials are they neglecting?
With an everchanging array of technologies, social media platforms and forms of advertising, there can be opportunity to corner the market by being the more innovative company in your field. A lot of small businesses get stuck in a rut with their marketing. What works, works and the feet never move off the path of putting one in front of the other. You, as a fresh player, can maximise this lack of bravery through experimenting- as long as you know the audience is there for it, of course!
Pro tip: It’s always better to find the gaps your competitors miss when it comes to marketing. A novel approach or a neglected platform or form of advertising can save you a lot of budget. Plus, it makes it easier when you capture previously ignored eyeballs.
How do your competitors define performance?
It might sound like a hard one to figure out, but most companies wear what matters to them on their sleeves. By reading their ABOUT page, mission statement, manifesto, the kinds of testimonials they put up, and even the claims to fame they put on their marketing, you can get a pretty solid idea what your competitors care about the most. Performance is also subjective. A lot of claims of favourite, friendly, loved and all the rest sound good, but they lack substance. Again, it might be a case of looking at what people complain about or are even cynical about. Australians are not known for holding back when a claim made doesn’t match the customer experience, after all. Once you know what their version of performance is, you can look for your new business and define your own benchmarks. Or you can highlight how the claims don’t match the experience.
Pro tip: It’s always easier to make claims that a customer can verify. If you’re going to say you’re the most awarded business in town, make sure it’s true. And rely on facts and figures to help bolster proof of the claim you are making.
Are there industry standards that pit apple against apple?
Customers love to compare you with your competitors. In this regard, even voluntary standards can matter to an industry. Working with the appropriate bodies to ensure you too meet the standard can work to your benefit. Even if customers don’t necessarily understand the standards, they can give peace of mind through existing in the first place. Some standards you may consider include sustainability standards, B Corp registration, professional memberships and affiliations, whether courses are included as CPD hours and so on.
Pro tip: Even if your competitors aren’t subscribing to industry standards, it may be in your best interests to do so. The extra hoops can make all the difference.
Are they really your competitor?
One of the biggest mistakes we make in all forms of business is not recognising the power of solidarity. Sometimes, it can be far more beneficial to ingratiate yourself to your peers than it is to set it up as a competitive relationship. Through relationships, you can often get customer overflow and deal with your competitors run-off. Or you can collaborate directly to bring shared customers two or more brands they love in situations like crossovers, special events or markets. You can also share industry issues and combine forces to tackle them. Never forget the potential opportunities to combine forces. It feels a whole lot nicer than fighting for both customer attention and to run a competitor off.
Pro tip: Evaluate relationships not based on who you are fighting to impress but what you can receive in way of mutual benefit.
Still looking for advice on how to take your new business into an existing market? Grab some coaching from me now.
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