This blog was originally posted on the 8th of April 2016 and has been updated for 2023, incorporating tools & techniques to aid in using competitors’ knowledge to your advantage!

In every arena, be it sports, politics, or any domain, securing a competitive edge and achieving success necessitates a profound understanding of your competitors’ knowledge. This holds especially true in the realm of business, where multiple companies vie for your customers’ attention and, ultimately, their spending power.

By understanding exactly who your competitors are, and what they are offering, you are best positioned to set your prices competitively and to market your products and services in a way that stands out. It enables you to leverage competitors’ knowledge, assess potential threats from new entrants, and gauge the strategies of current market players.

The following are the essential steps to follow for assessing your competition:

Step 1: Know Who’s In Your ‘Space’

Your ‘space’ is probably bigger than it first seems. All businesses face competition. Even if you’re the only restaurant in town, you must still compete with cafes, bars, cinemas, and other businesses where your customers may choose to spend their money instead of with you. Furthermore with the increasing use of the internet for buying and researching products and services, you need to bear in mind that you’re not just competing with your immediate neighbours, but also those online.

Remember, your competitors may not be businesses selling the same or similar products or services as your own, they could be a new business offering a substitute or similar product that makes yours redundant. Knowing your competitors means more than simply researching what’s already out there. You also need to be constantly on the lookout for possible new competition.

Tools & Techniques

There are a number of tools available to assist in understanding the landscape of competitors:

  • Market research surveys and analysis can unveil direct and indirect competitors, shedding light on their offerings, market positioning, and customer perceptions.
  • Utilising online tools such as Google Trends, SEMrush, or SimilarWeb aids in identifying digital competitors and their online presence. SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) provides a structured framework to evaluate your own business against competitors, revealing areas of competitive advantage or vulnerability.
  • Industry reports, trade publications, and social media listening tools are instrumental in gauging market sentiment and understanding consumer preferences, enabling a more comprehensive assessment of your competitive landscape.

Know your space

Step 2: Understand How These Businesses Are Perceived

With the vast number of businesses out there, it’s likely that one, or more competitors will be offering an end product or service that’s similar to yours.  Today’s savvy consumer recognises this, and so the edge you have over your competition is likely to come down to an emotional connection through your point of difference.

If you want to ‘win’ the customer, you have to think about brand positioning.  In order to ensure your brand stands out, have a look at what your competitors are saying about themselves, and how their brand is perceived by consumers. By doing this, you can make your own positioning different so that you can stand out from the crowd. The more relevant and engaging it is to your target consumer, the more likely you are to be their preferred choice.

Tools & Techniques

You can gain insight into how businesses are perceived in the market through a number of tools that delve into consumer sentiment and brand positioning:

  • Social media monitoring tools like Hootsuite or Brandwatch allow businesses to track mentions, comments, and sentiments about competitors in real-time, unveiling public opinions and trends.
  • Conducting customer surveys, focus groups, or interviews aids in understanding consumer perceptions and preferences, providing valuable qualitative data.
  • Online reputation management tools like Trustpilot or Yelp help gauge customer reviews and ratings, offering a glimpse into how businesses are perceived by their clientele.
  • Analysing competitor advertising, messaging, and content strategies through tools like Adbeat or Sprout Social aids in discerning the tone, messaging, and overall perception they aim to cultivate among consumers.

Integrating these tools empowers businesses to grasp the perceptions that consumers hold about their competitors, aiding in strategic decision-making for brand differentiation.

Step 3: Apply Competitors’ Knowledge to Your Advantage

By evaluating the information you have about your competitors, you may find a gap in the market that you can exploit. It should also indicate whether there is a saturation of suppliers in certain areas of your market, which might mean your business should focus on less competitive areas.

Leveraging your competitors’ knowledge allows you to strategically position your business in areas where competition is less intense, maximising your chances of success and differentiation.

Tools & Techniques

There are various strategies to effectively apply the knowledge gathered from competitors:

  • Benchmarking, a comparative analysis of your business against industry leaders or direct competitors, unveils performance gaps and areas for improvement.
  • Conducting a thorough gap analysis aids in identifying unmet customer needs or underserved market segments, providing opportunities for innovation and product differentiation.
  • Competitive intelligence software and data analytics platforms help in processing vast amounts of competitor data, extracting actionable insights to inform decision-making and strategy formulation.
  • Scenario planning and predictive modelling enable businesses to anticipate competitor moves and market shifts, allowing proactive adjustments to stay ahead in the competitive landscape.

Integrating these tools enables businesses to not only react but also proactively shape their strategies based on competitors’ actions and market trends.

Remember … Innovate Don’t Imitate

With the various tools and techniques available, businesses can gain insights into competitors’ strategies and approaches. However, it’s not enough to just know what your competitors are doing, and copy them with the hope that it will also work for your business. The key to gaining true competitive advantage is to look at what your competitors are doing, and work out how to do it even better in a way that offers more value to your customers.

At the Lead Agency, we are experts in Digital Marketing consulting, and have worked with a number of businesses from various industries to boost their marketing campaigns and generate leads for their business. Contact us today to amplify your brand’s online presence and drive measurable results

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