How to Beat Your Competition With a Competitor Audit

How to Beat Your Competition:

To maintain positive brand status and stay ahead of the competition you must learn how to search for and find your top competitors, how to analyze their strengths and weaknesses, and how to differentiate your brand so you stand out in the competitive marketplace.

The best way to start this process is to complete an in-depth competitor audit.

A Competitor Audit is the process of categorizing and evaluating your competitors to understand their strengths and weaknesses in comparison to your own.

You will need to analyze everything from their visual identity, their tagline, their brand voice, to their messaging, and their customers.

Examples of some of the questions you should ask yourself are:

  • Who are your top competitors?
  • What brands offer similar products or services?
  • How are you different from them?
  • How are you better than them?
  • How are they better than you?
  • What will you do that they will not?
  • What is their purpose?
  • What is the look and feel of their brand identity?
  • What are their values?
  • Who is their customer?
  • How do they talk about their customers?
  • How do they acquire their customers?
  • What are their marketing channels?
  • How are they positioned in the marketplace?
  • What are their strengths?
  • What are their weaknesses?
  • What are their similarities to your brand?

The end goal of this competitor audit is to get clarity and identify opportunities for differentiation.

When you know how and where to position your brand as the better option for the consumer, you can then implement strategies and gain a competitive advantage.

Here are the 5 top benefits of completing a competitor audit:

  1. Find Gaps in the Marketplace
    During your competitor audit you may discover positioning opportunities that are not currently owned. You can instantly generate new revenue streams by filling these gaps.

  2. Give Customers What They What
    When you analyze your competition you will recognize points where they have failed to meet the needs of their customers. This is your opportunity to step in and provide a better solution.

  3. Discover New Marketing Channels
    In today’s digital, on demand, social media influenced world, there are dozens of new marketing strategies popping up everyday. Through your competitive auditing you may discover communication channels that were previously unaware of.

  4. Become More Innovative
    In addition to finding gaps in the marketplace to position your brand, you may even find holes in product offerings. Your research into the competition could uncover offerings that are currently unavailable to customers.

  5. Develop a better USP
    Your USP, or Unique Selling Proposition is the one thing that makes your business better than the competition. It plays to your strengths and should highlight what makes your brand uniquely valuable to your customers. By identifying your competitors’ USP you can use that information to improve your own competitive position.

OK, so now that you know the questions you will need to answer and you understand how beneficial a competitor audit can be to the success of your business, let’s go over the best process to analyze your competition.

Finding The Competition

The first step in completing a competitor audit is to come up with a list of companies that offer similar products or services as yours.

Depending on your industry, this list may be quite lengthy.

However, only list the brands that fit directly within your category. You want your list to be comprehensive, but not overwhelming.

There are 3 types of competitors to look for:

  1. Direct Competitors:
    These are businesses exactly the same as yours. They offer the same product or service to the same audience, and may even be in the same geographical location.

  2. InDirect Competitors:
    These are companies that offer a similar product to yours, but they may serve a different purpose or they may target a different audience. For example, if you sell hamburgers, an indirect competitor would be a sandwich shop. You have different products, so the sandwich shop would not be a direct competitor. However, they could still take some of your business if they can persuade someone to buy a turkey sandwich instead of your hamburgers.

  3. Tertiary competitors:
    These are companies who sell products or services that are vaguely similar to yours. It’s still important to identify these businesses because if they decide to make a change, they could become a direct or indirect competitor. So for now, just keep your eye on them.

After compiling a master list, you will want to trim the list down and prioritize the top 5 to 10 competitors in your space.

This will help you stay focused and not get distracted by companies that may not be a risk to your business at this time.

Here are a few ways to identity your direct or indirect competition:

  1. Search For Them
    Start with the most obvious and just google it. Begin by searching for the products or services you offer. Next search for terms and phrases related to your business. And finally compile a list of keywords that relate to your products or services and start Googling. You will quickly have a list of potential competitors.

  2. Pay Attention to Search Ads
    While you are Googling your keywords and phrases, pay attention to the ads listed above, below and to the side of your search results. These ads will most likely be from competitors that have targeted the keywords you are searching. Also, make sure you do the searches multiple times since not all the ads will appear on every search.

  3. Dive Into Social Media
    Whether you like it or not, everyone and every business has a social media presence these days. There are so many channels, groups, communities, forums, chats, posts, and blogs to analyze that it can quickly become overwhelming. Start by searching on facebook for competitor business pages, then move on to youtube, Twitter, and Instagram. From there you will start to find groups and links to blogs to follow. Pay close attention to the comments section. This is where your audience hangs out and talks about the competition.

  4. Talk to Your Customers
    When you make a sale, ask the customer how they heard about you and if they have purchased the same product or service from a competitor in the past. Find out why they chose you over them. This will help you develop your marketing message and value proposition.

  5. Review Trade Publications and Trade Show Vendors
    If there are any publications in your industry, both physical or digital, make sure you’re reviewing these often. New or existing competitors may submit articles or place advertisements to help promote their business. Take a look at vendor lists for trade shows that focus on your industry. This could produce a list of up and coming brands that may become direct or indirect competition.

Completing the Competitor Audit

Now that you have your lists of both direct and indirect competitors, it’s time to begin the competitive analysis.

Step 1: Basic Information:

Start with the easy stuff.

This will help to organize and develop some comparison points between your competitors.

  • This basic data should include:
  • What products or services they offer.
  • Their revenue and financial reports, if publicly available.
  • How many clients or repetitive customers they have.
  • How many offices or stores they have and their locations.
  • What geographic areas they operate in.
  • How many employees they have and any valuable information about executives and upper management.
  • The history of the company and any significant milestones.
  • What websites and social media channels they own.

Step 2: Brand Purpose, Vision, Mission, and Values:

Just like you’ve defined for your brand earlier, you will want to learn the brand purpose, brand vision, brand mission, and brand values of your competitors.

This information will be valuable when determining the best way to differentiate and position your brand in the marketplace.

Step 3: Visual Identity:

You will want to perform a complete audit of your competition’s visual identity.

This should include their logo, colors palettes, typography, imagery, iconography, and website design.

Some questions you should ask yourself are:
Do you like their logo?
Does their logo represent what they do?
What emotions do you feel from their brand colors?
Does their typography trigger a response?
Does their imagery match their brands look and feel?
How is their visual identity better than yours?
How is your visual identity better than theirs?
Does their website provide a pleasurable visual experience?

Step 4: Messaging:

Take a look at how your competition speaks to their customers.

This is not just in verbal communications, but in all of their messaging. By analyzing their voice, mission statement, slogans, and taglines you will begin to get a good understanding about how they see themselves and what they are trying to accomplish.

You should review their website copy, social media content, marketing campaigns, emails, packaging text, and physical materials such as brochures and flyers.

A few question to consider are:

  • What does their tagline or slogan say to the consumer?
  • What is the main heading and opening copy on their homepage?
  • When they speak to the consumer, what type of language is used?
  • How do they talk about their products and services?
  • What features do they emphasize?
  • Who are the people they are talking to?
  • What are their Key selling points?
  • Do they compare themselves to the competition?

Step 5: Pricing:

Analyze and document the pricing structure of the competition’s products or services.

Then match those up with comparable products or services that you offer.

If they are similar in quality and features, you can then assess whether or not your product is fairly priced.

Step 6: Recruitment & Job Openings

Your competitors careers page will provide great insights into their company. You can make some educated guesses based on what they are posting.

For example, if they are looking for new designers and developers, they probably have a big project or product expansion on the horizon.

Also, if there seems to be a lot of recent job openings it could indicate there are troubles within the company, and employees are leaving.

This is something you may be able to take advantage of by recruiting their top talent.

Step 7: Website Content:

A lot of valuable information can be collected from a competitor’s website.

Begin by taking a look at the website structure.

  • Is their website easy to navigate?
  • What are they emphasizing?
  • What content are they presenting to the visitor?
  • Do they have a blog, and how often are they posting?
  • Where does their website fail the visitor?
  • How can it be better?

Next take a look at the design, technology and how the website functions.

  • Are they staying on top of the latest trends?
  • Is the website visual pleasing?
  • Is it responsive and does it work on multiple mobile devices?
  • Does it load fast?
  • Are there any errors or broken links?

Step 8: Social Media

There’s no better source to determine what your competition is doing and how well they are performing than social media.

By reviewing all their channels you will not gain insight into how your competition uses social media, but also how people perceive them.

Begin by finding what platforms they use, and then see who they are talking to and how they interact with them.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself while reviewing their channels:

  • What platforms are working best for them?
  • How many followers do they have?
  • How often do they post?
  • Are their posts engaging?
  • What kind of language do they use?
  • Are people commenting on their posts?
  • Are the comments positive or negative?
  • Who is the demographic that follows and comments?
  • Do their graphical posts remain on-brand?
  • Is their messaging consistent?
  • What type of content is working?

So now that you have collected all this valuable data and in depth information about your competitors, don’t let it go to waste.

How you use this information is dependent on your specific company’s goals.

For example, you may have a major competitor that you would like to beat. If so, put them at the top of your priority list and focus on how you can become number 1.

Perhaps you are just starting out and you are looking to position yourself differently than the competition so you stand out as unique.

Or maybe after identifying your competition, you simply want to develop better marketing strategies so you can outperform them.

Whatever your reason is, the ultimate goal is to put all this research to good use.

To continue your training, please be sure to download the FREE Brand Builder Toolbox and complete the Action Guide.

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