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Very few businesses are unique; in fact, most are in crowded sectors. So, when developing your marketing strategy, one of the first things you should do is get to know your competition.
Getting to know your competition comes before beginning to plan what activities you should be doing. That may seem backward, but knowing your competition will give you useful insights that can help inform and shape your own marketing strategy.
Understand market position
Most importantly, you need to understand their market position. Fortunately, in today’s digital age, most of the insights you are looking for are available online, through their website, reviews and their extended digital presence, such as social media profiles.
Let’s say you are a stationery supplier. The sort of questions you want to answer about your competition include:
Identifying where the other stationery suppliers sit within the market will help you identify untapped sectors; it will also help you understand what you need to communicate if you want to vie for market share directly with your competitors.
Understand their marketing
Putting the marketing activities of your direct competition under the microscope will give you an idea of what is working for them, and therefore what might work for you.
Be critical in your analysis. To keep with the above example, you might find that the other stationery suppliers in your area have Twitter accounts with an enviable number of followers. But dig down into their followers: are they within the target geographic area? If they are aiming at the commercial market, are they predominantly local businesses or are they individuals (who would be unlikely to buy from them)? How much engagement are they getting?
Looking beyond the headlines of your competitors’ marketing will give you valuable information as to what channels and activities you might consider in your own marketing strategy, and which might be expensive red herrings that are unlikely to yield real returns on investment for you.
Getting to know your competition is one of the first steps to running an effective, strategic marketing campaign that puts you ahead of the field.