Competitive research is a business strategy used to identify your company’s competitors and collect information about their business practices, products, and services. The data you’ll gather from competitive research will show your rivals’ strengths and weaknesses, what is working for them, and it will reveal how your business practices compare to theirs so you can fine-tune your company’s strategies.
Competitive research exposes flaws in your company’s business plan and helps identify industry trends you may be overlooking. It’s an essential part of any good marketing plan and helps prevent your business from losing out to competitors. It allows you to improve your marketing, identify what’s missing in your marketing plan, better understand the market, and develop smarter strategies for the future. Furthermore, you’ll save time and money by eliminating strategies that aren’t working. Below are answers to a few commonly asked questions about competitor research.
Is Competitive Research Legal?
Yes, it’s legal! While illegal methods of competitive research do exist, most companies don’t resort to such criminal extremes. There are many ways to gather information on a company and tons of public resources that can be used to collect this information. Dun & Bradstreet, for example, publishes reports and financial filings on companies, there are accessible databases from Standard & Poor’s, news articles are often written about some companies, and you can even retrieve data from the US Securities and Exchange Commission. More recently, social media has been a treasure trove of information for those using competitive research to find information on a competitor.
What Kind of Information Should a Company Look for?
Competitive research can be used to find features other products have that yours don’t, lower prices for the same or similar products, current deals such as the infamous BOGO (Buy One Get One), and competitors’ products that have formal ratings or certifications. Another type of information that may be useful is a competitor’s activity in trade shows and what types of marketing they offer at the shows. A successful competitor might be using different pricing strategies or successfully targeting markets your company has not considered.
Resources for Competitive Research
There are competitive research tools available to help identify competitor’s keywords, pay per click (PPC), and search engine optimization (SEO). Some of the most popular competitive research tools include SEMrush, BuzzSumo, Ahrefs, SpyFu, Phlanx, Owletter, MozBar, Sprout Social, and Social Blade. These marketing tools are effective and easy to use, and they’ll reveal what a competitor is doing in their marketing efforts by uncovering information such as top keywords, key phrases, longtail key phrases, backlinks, tracking methods, and how and why competitors are ranking or not ranking.
You can also visit a company’s website to see what social media platforms they are using. Facebook and LinkedIn can be useful pages to take a look at activity in the industry. Have your competitors been attending trade shows or conferences, have they held polls or contests, or have they held promotions? You can monitor their fans, followers, likes, and the kind of content are they posting that is sparking engagement. Take a look at what kind of content is or is not being shared by your competitors and when they are posting. This is all good information that is designed to help you effectively tailor your social media marketing.
Take a look at other types of content your competition is sharing. Do they have “Top 10” types of information or videos? Take a look at what their blogs cover, how many words are used, and the types of references they include in them. Are they using podcasts? There is a lot of information that can be used when researching competitors’ online content.
Maybe your business is not doing very well and needs improvement, or maybe your business is doing very well and you want to do even better. Either way, competitive research is an affordable, legal, and very accessible way of learning business practices of your competitors to help improve your own. If you don’t think you can do yourself, hire someone to do it for you. That type of information is extremely necessary and will profitably streamline your business.
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