You may not think your competitors will happily help you sell more but there are many ways they will tell you what you need to know about your market. There is a huge volume of data available online that allows you to find out what they are doing and get a good idea of what offers and approaches are effective.
Though you probably already know your main competitors, a quick online search will help you discover many more – simply use the top keywords for your topic.
In looking at competitors in general, you want to know:
- Who are the main competitors?
- What are they selling?
- Who are their customers?
- Who are the industry leaders and why do they stand out?
- What marketing strategies are competitors using?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of competitors?
When you enter in the keywords, take note of the main sites that come up in your search. Notice who shows in the organic search plus who is advertising alongside the search results.
Keep a note of the main sites that attract your interest as you will probably want to revisit the sites later. You can learn a great deal from them.
This is what you should check for on the search page:
- How many pages there are competing on the topic (top right)
- What products and services are being advertised (right and top of page)
- Related searches for similar topics (bottom of page)
Click on some links (search results and advertising) and note:
- Products and services are being sold
- Type of companies selling them
- The amount of competition
- The price ranges
Spend some time reading the sites you find; take note of the words and messages and use it to help shape your own marketing.
Sign up for any free reports or ezines that seem useful. If you are considering a new market or service, look for evidence that there are already some serious companies in this market offering that type of product or service.
If you cannot find much evidence of competition, it most likely means there is not enough of a market to make it worthwhile.
When studying competitors, you also want to be thinking about ways that you can differentiate your offer. Many people make the mistake of assuming that the best way to differentiate themselves is to be cheaper. This is a very short-term approach because your competitors can use it just as easily as you and you end up in a price war that means you lose money. You need to find a real point of differentiation to make you stand out.
Ask questions such as:
- What is missing from the current offers in this market?
- If I were the customer, what information or service would I want that is not currently easily available?
- What additional benefits could I bring that would be valued?
- How could I repackage this information to make it more valuable?
- What alternative approaches would provide a completely different way of satisfying these needs?
- How could the information be made available much more easily?
- What would be a completely different way of meeting those needs?
- What you can learn from online advertising levels
When you have the answers to those questions, you are well on your way to finding a way that you can stand out.
About the author: Robert Greenshields is an information marketing coach who helps professionals like consultants, coaches and therapists to attract more of their ideal clients by turning their expertise into a high-value product. Download his free Productize Your Expertise report at http://www.mindpowermarketing.com