Competitor Analysis: Six Ninja Tactics for Small Business
Do you sometimes get the feeling that your competitor up the road is getting all the business? Wondering what you can do to turn the tables? Never fear – these Ninja Competitor Analysis techniques will have you one-upping them before they realise they have been targeted.
1) Competitor Reputation
The first step to take on your direct competitors is to examine their reputation. Word of mouth advertising is extremely powerful, which is why sites like Google reviews and Facebook testimonials are a great indication of a business’ success. See where you stand vs the competition and check out how they respond to reviews, both positive and negative. Use their example (be it good or bad) to learn how you want to respond to customers!
While on the topic of reputation and reviews, have a look at this comparison of the Thai restaurants that come up when I search for Thai restaurants Sydney. There is a clear winner here. Who would you choose to dine out with? Consider asking your clients for Google reviews in order to boost your status compared to the competition. Don’t forget other review sites like Yelp, or industry specific sites that review your industry only.
2) Social Media Review
There are two steps in reviewing your competitor’s Social Media presence. What customers are saying, and what content is being provided.
Compare your social pages to your competitors (if you don’t have at least a Facebook page… GET ONE). Look at how theirs are designed, what kind of information they are putting up regularly like photos, client testimonials, events etc, and in fact do they post regularly? Do they have a lot of followers? If they are out-performing you significantly, take a page from their book on how to engage with you customers to build up a loyal following.
Take note of what their customers are asking them. If you have competitors who are performing poorly at social media, use their shortcomings to identify what to say. If they have similar complaints across a few competitors, you can use this information to highlight what customers WON’T experience with you.
Finally, look at the content. If you look at all their social media platforms you can find out what material their clients are responding to, by looking at what gets the most likes, retweets, shares. Are they sharing pictures or stories, contests or surveys? Maybe they are simply providing news updates for the industry. Model the successful content styles once you have an understanding for what customers like, and you are well on your way to growing your fan base.
3) Website Review
The website can be just as important, if not more important than the physical storefront. Imagine the following metaphor. Your business is behind a large wall that displays an ad of your business. If it looks cheap and tacky, no one will want to come in. If it looks over the top and garish, no one will want to come in (unless you happy to be a $2 store). If it’s a blank wall – they don’t even know you exist.
Point is, make sure your website is up to scratch, and compare their website to yours. If their customers like the website, examine the design. Is it easy to read and navigate? What colour scheme are they using and how does this represent their brand? While staying true to your business’ brand personality, try to emulate their styling to create the same kind of web success they have. Of particular note, make sure your contact details are displayed prominently.
Once we move past design, the ‘meat and potatoes’ of the website is the content. This can make or break a customer experience. Making them search elsewhere for questions or forcing them to call you, a lot of times is a turn off. They want information now! Not in 24 hours, in a lot of cases.
Compare the writing on your site to your competitors. How does is differ? Have they written high quality, detailed texts? Do they have a comprehensive FAQ section? Is the tone casual or formal, and how does that reflect their brand? Take a critical eye to your content and make sure you are representing your business accurately and helping customers choose you.
4) Local Service Google Search
Do yourself a favour and search for your main service in Google, in the format ‘my service’ in ‘my town, Australia’. Is your business coming up or someone else’s? If your competitor is coming up when you search for your service, it’s a good indication that you need to create or update your Google+ page for your business. There is obviously an SEO component to this which involves being a good local business owner.
Get involved in the community! The more local events or fundraisers you attend or support, the more opportunity you have to link in to their databases and link in to their website’s authority over the local area. Google loves links from other local business’ – it shows you are a serious player.
5) Google Search
Next up is Googling your actual business name and comparing it to what happens when you Google your competitor’s business name. How high up do you appear in the organic results? If people know your business, look for you specifically and can’t find you, how long before they give up?
Then search for keywords or keyword strings that are important to your business. If you are continually being outranked, it’s time to rethink your SEO strategy. If you are wondering what SEO is, it’s time to speak to a professional.
While you are working on your organic SEO, it’s probably worth investing in a PPC campaign to keep you in the public eye until it improves. Go after the same or similar keywords as your competitors (to capture their customers) and try targeting keywords and strings that they haven’t touched to capture other market segments.
6) Learn and Grow!
After a thorough investigation of the local digital landscape, you should have a solid understanding of where you and your competitors stand. Use this research to your advantage… be better than they are!
Run your business better, engage your audience better, get out and meet the community better. In six months’ time, redo these steps and see how you score. The purpose is improvement, so you have to track it!