If you’re a busy small business owner, you may not be thrilled about adding one more thing to your already overloaded to-do list. But keeping an eye on your competitors by performing competitive market research is one task you can’t afford to skip. Make it a habit to study your competitors to learn what works and why so you can apply it to your own marketing strategy.
What’s Hot in Social Media
It’s not difficult to figure out what social media your strongest competitors are most active in. Go to their websites and see what social media links they have to see what social media platforms they are on. Rival IQ social media marketing manager Danielle Prager says it’s easy to further analyze their social media activity by looking at how many likes their Facebook pages have. You can just look at their pages or as Social Media Examiner’s Kristi Hines explains, do it right in your own Facebook insights in the Pages to Watch feature. Use free tools like Wildfire’s Who’s Winning in Social or Simply Measured’s free social media engagement reports to see how your competition is doing in social media and understand what’s working for them.
What Kind of Reputation You Want
See what is written about your competitors and what kind of comments show up in their social media to understand what kind of reputation you want to build. Massive PR content strategist Dan Virgillito says how companies handle criticism online affects their reputation in either good or bad ways. Tools like Google Alerts, Tweet Alarm, Hyper Alerts, and Social Mention will alert you when your competition gets new activity in social media, so you can see if any good or bad trends are happening.
What Your Customers Want
Marketing expert Jim Joseph recommends taking a look at your competitors’ offerings at trade shows, in stores, and online. Look at the marketing materials they give out, buy something from them, sign up for a marketing promotion to see how what experience they are providing customers. Look at their online promotions. Are they creating contests? Do they frequently offer customer surveys?
What Content Appeals to Your Customers
Keep an eye on what your competitors are creating in the way of content to draw, engage, and convert customers. Kristi Hines says you can learn a lot about how to develop a social media content calendar by looking at how often competitors post on different social networks, what types of updates they are posting (links, videos, questions, etc.), and what type of engagement they get.
What Not to Do
The flip side of analyzing what works for competitors is seeing what flopped. When your competitors have a media disaster, you learn what not to do. Did they have a promotion that got lots of bad comments or was written up in the media as not politically correct? Or worse, offensive or just plain in bad taste? Look no further than the Super Bowl ads that garnered lots of criticism and even anger.
Find Market Opportunities
You can find market opportunities by watching what type of customers your competition is targeting. Michael Hunter gives an example of a social media expert that garnered a specific niche customer base in an industry he was experienced in rather than the general field of customers who need help with social media. Watch your competitor’s marketing to spot under-served demographics or industries that could be opportunities for your business.
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