One of the best things you can do for your business is to stand out from the competition and become the clear choice for your ideal customers.
However, I’ve found that many business owners keep their “heads in the sand” when it comes to researching their competition. It’s almost as if they can avoid competition by ignoring it.
This is certainly not a “what you don’t know won’t hurt you” scenario.
If you want to grow your business then you MUST create a competitive edge and the first step is to take a look at who your competition is.
To get started make a list of your top 5-7 competitors. If you don’t know who they are then be sure to read this.
Once you know your top competitors you want to ask 4 questions about each. To stay organized you can create a simple spreadsheet in Excel or download this PDF here.
Here are the questions:
What is their niche? Are they generalists or do they serve a specific audience with a specific solution? It’s likely that your top competitors will have a clearly defined niche and target market. You should too!
What are their strengths? What do they appear to do VERY well. This might take a little bit of research and I know a lot of businesses don’t even want to know what their competitors do well, but this is a critical step if you want to grow your business.
What are their weaknesses? Okay, this is admittedly much more satisfying than identifying your competitors’ strengths, so have fun. What do they seem to be missing? What do they overlook?
What’s your advantage vs. them? What do YOU do better than your competition? One of the beautiful parts about marketing is that you can turn strengths into weaknesses and weaknesses into strengths. If you’re a small company competing against larger ones then you can mention your impeccable attention to detail and your mission to make every customer a satisfied one. (read this article for more).
This is a simple yet powerful exercise and it’s not meant as a “one and done” task. You should constantly review your competitors and update this worksheet. As your business continues to grow you will begin to emerge into new markets with new competitors. Always be sure to stay on top of them.
If you’re having a tough time coming up with answers then see if you can find online reviews for your top competitors. Read the positive reviews to sniff out some of their strengths and read the negative reviews to see what they struggle with.
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