Getting a leg up on your competition with a competitor analysis can help you in so many ways. You can see who they’re going after, what they’re doing really well—and where you can sneak in and snag some of their market share. If you’re still on the fence about why you should spend time performing a thorough competitor analysis template, here are seven ways it can help you gain a strong competitive edge:
1. Get Ahead of Trends Quickly
When you’re looking at larger businesses that are direct competitors, head to the “Media” or “For the Press” section of their web pages. Read their press releases. Then, head over to their “Investors” page, if they have one. Both of these sections will give you an idea of where the competition is going.
For example, if you sell appliances, one of your direct competitors would be a company like Best Buy. You have to dig around at the bottom of the home page, but if you click on “Corporate Information,” you’ll be taken to a page with press releases and investor information. Read the press releases and even listen to previous earnings calls. They might provide clues about ways that the company is planning to add a new channel to sell products or how they might be tweaking their business model.
The real advantage as a challenger brand is that you can move faster. With larger companies, it takes several layers of approval to pivot. You, on the other hand, can jump right in and start expanding into an international market or carrying a new line of those in-demand espresso machines.
2. Exploit Competitor Weaknesses
If you’ve spent time on review sites like Trustpilot or your competitors’ social media pages, you’ll know what’s frustrating their customers. Go one step further and search for “[Competitor] reviews” on Google.
You can quickly see where your competitors are falling short: shipping delays, products that break, or just bad customer service. Not only can you make sure your processes are shored up, but you can also highlight your stellar customer service or your 24-hour shipping turnaround time in your own marketing.
3. Explain Your Offerings Better
Conduct some recon work and explore your competition's website to see how they describe their products or services. This can help inform how you should talk about your offerings and overall brand messaging. For example, if you sell espresso machines, your direct competitor may describe their steam-driven machines as having “adequate pressure.
But if you dig deeper into the specifications of the steam-driven machines, they may not provide the full nine bars of pressure to force the water through the espresso grounds. You can emphasize that your machines do offer nine bars of pressure, regardless of whether they’re steam-driven or pump-driven.
4. Find Out Who to Target
Reviewing sites and your competitors’ own customer success stories can help you find your audience and even untapped markets. These customers will typically talk about what drove them to your competitors or how they helped. For example, the testimonials on a competitor’s site can be a goldmine. A company that helps students find housing may find that its competitors also receive testimonials from young professionals or professionals who only plan to be in a city for a set amount of time. You can tailor your messaging and marketing to expand to this audience.
5. Get Ideas to Solve Visitor Problems
The testimonials on your competitors’ websites and on review sites can also help you figure out how to solve problems. As a smaller company, you have the opportunity to move quickly, something your large enterprise competitors don’t.
For example, you may read reviews from day hikers that they need backpacks with an insert for a water bladder, which your competitor’s mass-produced bags don’t include. You can quickly prototype, test, and manufacture your own bags before your competition has the chance to even bring it up at its monthly design meeting.
6. Refine Your Positioning
Looking over your competitors’ websites, social media pages, and any other materials like videos or demos can help you refine how you position yourself in the marketplace. You can see what market they’re going after and if it aligns with your ideal customer profile. You also have the opportunity to see what their communication style is and if it’s a good fit for the products you provide.
For example, if they sell coffee machines, do they focus on coffee as jet fuel to get hardworking people through the day, or do they use imagery and messaging to convey coffee as a way to connect with friends and family? You can use their messaging to shape your own. Or, if you've already identified as the brand for hardworking people, you can take it a step further and go after the desk warriors who burn the midnight oil to further refine your messaging and appeal to your ideal audience.
7. Identify Relevant Keywords
In your competitor research, you’ll visit sites like SEMrush.com and Moz.com to research keywords. Plug in the URLs of your competitors’ website to find out what keywords they’re using and to find out what kind of reach they get. You’ll be able to see what they rank for in both organic and paid search, and you can use this to figure out which keywords you want to rank for and which ones your competitors are missing in their own marketing.
If you haven’t started a competitor analysis, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities to get ahead. Start looking at your competitors’ websites and the keywords they use to target their own audiences. From that research, you can exploit their weaknesses, get ahead of trends, solve your visitors' problems, and refine your own positioning.
Check out our Ultimate Guide to Growth to find out how you can leverage competitor analysis to improve your own marketing.