Why is it Important to Research Competitors?

Competitive research or competitive intelligence is a field of strategic research that specializes in the collection and analysis of information about rival firms. It’s an essential tactic for finding out what your competitors are doing and what kind of threat they present to your financial well-being.

By analyzing your competition and then monitoring them on an ongoing basis, you’ll get to know their behavior, enabling you to anticipate their actions and stay one step ahead.

Below are the processes you can use to conduct your Competitive Analysis:

1. Categorize your competitors.

Whether you want to admit it or not, competitors are out there and they’re likely just as hungry as you are.

There are many ways to identify key competitors in your industry, but Google will likely be where you do most of your legwork.

Start with a simple search for your business name, product ideas and overarching business idea.

From there, check out different social media channels, organizations and online communities.

As you find competitors, you’ll want to categorize them into various levels, from direct competitors to businesses that don’t currently compete with you, but could easy pivot.

Here is an easy way to categorize sellers in your industry:

  • Primary Competition: These are your direct competitors, which means they’re either targeting the same audience or have a similar product — or both.
  • Secondary Competition: These competitors may offer a high- or low-end version of your product, or sell something similar to a completely different audience.
  • Tertiary Competition: This category includes businesses that are tangentially related to yours, and really comes in handy when you’re looking to expand your product catalog. These could be related products and services that are trending, as well as businesses that may be beneficial to partner with further down the line. For instance, if you sell jewelry, a tertiary competitor may sell gems and stones.

As you conduct your research, keep things organized in a spreadsheet or database.

To start, track the basics; name of store, location, mission statement (if they have one), product offering, strengths and weaknesses of their business, and category of competition.

2. Examine your competitor’s website & customer experience.

Once you’ve identified your competitors, you’ll want to analyze their websites.

To start, take a close look at the following items:

  • How solid is their product photography? How do they display their products and help communicate details?
  • How detailed are their product descriptions? What information do they include? What information is missing?
  • Where are their calls to action throughout the online shopping experience? Are they obvious or do they get lost due to a poor color scheme or positioning?
  • Are they trying to build an email list with a newsletter sign-up prompt? How prominent is it?
  • Where are their social media icons positioned?
  • Do they have a blog? How frequently do they post? What type of information do they tackle?
  • Is their site optimized for mobile?
  • What methods for contact do they offer? Do they have limited hours for phone support?
  • How long does it take them to respond to email, live chat and contact form submissions?
  • How frequently are they running promotions? What benefits do those promotions provide to their customers and potential shoppers, as well as their business?

Again, these are just to get you started.

Each website will be different depending on the market they are trying to reach and the products or services they are selling.

The goal here is to not only get a handle on their strengths and weaknesses (which can also be done with a SWOT analysis), but to help you start thinking as a dynamic business owner.

From there, you’ll be able to identify your competitive advantage in the marketplace.

3. Identify your competitor’s market positioning.

By identifying your competitor’s positioning strategy, you’ll start to get a feel for your market’s demands and expectations.

Take a look at their website and marketing messaging and ask the following:

  • What are customers really buying from them? Are they going for price? Experience?
  • How are they differentiating their product from their competition? What features and benefits do they highlight the most in their marketing copy?
  • What makes their product or service unique (according to them)?

These questions will help you understand to whom your competitors are speaking and how they position themselves within the market, which will pay dividends as you work on how you’ll position yourself against or alongside them.

To gather as much information as possible, be sure to:

  • Sign up for their newsletter: Get an understanding of their business and examples of communication, which say a lot about the competitive environment.
  • Subscribe to and follow their blog: See what types of content they are covering and at what cadence
  • Follow them on social media: Get a feel for how they speak to and serve their customers
  • Purchase a product: Check out the product itself, but also note the time it takes to ship and how their packaging looks

4. Take a peek at pricing.

There are several factors to be considered when setting prices for your products.

The best place to start is to look at how your competitors have priced their products. You’ll learn what your target market is willing to pay and get an understanding of what prices might work well for your business.

Look at the information you gathered on market positioning and figure out what it is you’re actually selling to your customers.

Your target market may be willing to pay more for peace of mind, expedited shipping or just overall website experience.

Remember to consider all the research you’ve been completing around general startup and business costs as we’ve walked through in previous posts.

5. Take a temperature check with reviews.

Take the time to find as many reviews of your competitors as possible, including everything from product reviews on their website to business reviews on social media to comments left on their blog.

Get a temperature check from their audience as to how healthy and client-centric their business is and decide if it’s a strength or weakness you can capitalize on.

If you find a lot of reviews on a product similar to one you’ll sell, it’s a good sign that people are interested in buying it.

If the reviews are from customers who aren’t happy with the service provided, the condition in which the product arrived, or the product quality, those could be ways to help differentiate your business.

6. Review social media.

Looking at your competitors’ social media accounts has multiple benefits.

Plus you’ll get a good idea of how customers feel about their business, and see what works well and what doesn’t for engaging with your own client base.

Of course, if a competitor does social really well, it also means that you’ll need to step up your game and come up with a new way of engaging your market — or possibly choose a different mix of customers all together.

If your competitors don’t have a decent following, it could indicate that the market is weak, your target market doesn’t use social media, or simply that there is room for your business to take the lead at engaging with customers.

Take a look at all of the social media channels you can think of — including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter — and ask:

  • What is their social media presence like overall?
  • Which social media channels do they use the most?
  • How do they speak with their client base?
  • How often do they interact with their following?
  • How frequently do they post something new?
  • Which social media channels are they missing? Is there opportunity for you there?
  • What are they posting?
  • What percentage of posts are about their business?
  • What percentage is solely meant to increase engagement or gain followers?

Last but not least, check out some alternative social channels as well.

If you need help to research your competitors in Cambodia, please contact us: vuthy@mrtsconsulting.com

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