In today’s lesson, you’re going to shine a light on your competition. You’ll learn why it’s important to get to know your competition, some insights you can learn from them, and how getting to know them better can actually help your brand to be more successful.
Everyone Has Competition
When I owned my branding agency I worked with scores of entrepreneurs over the years. During the course of our brand-building work, I would always ask them if they knew who their main competitors were. Every now and then one of these new entrepreneurs would say “Oh, I don’t have any competition. Nobody else is doing what I’m doing.” I would just smile and tell them, “That’s great! But we’re going to go ahead and dig a little deeper anyway.”
You might think that your business is so unique that you simply have no competitors. In reality, there are almost no businesses in existence today who don’t have at least some competition. Even though your business is pretty unique in and of itself, you may have some competition lurking in businesses that are just vaguely similar to yours.
For example, you might be the only gourmet brownie shop in town, but your actual competition might not be other brownie shops. It might be other sweet treat shops selling cupcakes, or macarons, or even larger bakeries that carry breads, muffins, and cookies.
When looking for who your competitors are, you might need to broaden your view and look beyond the most obvious options.
Fear Not Your Competition
One big mistake I see entrepreneurs make all the time is ignoring their competition, or pretending they don’t exist. I get why they do it, they get stuck in the comparison trap. They see their competitors as more successful, always doing things better. Their Instagram feed looks better, their website is cooler, their tagline is catchier. The truth though is that they’re probably thinking those same things about you and your brand!
Don’t be afraid of your competition, embrace them. Get to know as much as you can about them, the good, the bad, and the ugly. By knowing where they are coming from and where they stand, you can differentiate. You can offer something more unique. You can be better.Do you fear the competition or embrace them? You might want to start learning as much as you can about them. Click To Tweet
Ideas for Researching Your Competition
Google search – One of the easiest ways to find out who your competition might be is to do a Google search on your topic. Be sure to be very specific. For example, a search for “gourmet doughnut shops in Wicker Park” will yield better results than “Chicago doughnuts”.
Social media – You can also search for similar brands on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Seeing their posts can offer up some great insights into who they are and what they’re all about.
Read reviews – You can find reviews of your competition on Google or Facebook. You can also check review sites like Yelp, Foursquare, Angie’s List, and even the Better Business Bureau. What are people saying about them? Notice any trends, good or bad?
Check out the competition – Want to know more about the competition? Use their product or service and get a feel for what they’re all about. Take note of how the experience made you feel, what was good about it, what could be improved, etc.
Ask your customers – What do your current clients know about your competitors? What have they heard about them? Have they tried them? Do they know anyone who has? What was their experience like?
Ask your competitor directly – It may feel weird but there’s no harm in directly calling or emailing your competition. Just act like an interested customer and ask them questions. You don’t have to say who you are! Who knows, you might just get some powerful insights.
Questions to Answer
When identifying your competition you want to choose one competitor to focus on. Remember, you’re looking for a competitor that closely matches your business. For example, if you are a master craftsman and make beautiful tables using only hand tools, IKEA is probably not your main competitor. Yes, they sell tables, but they are way too different in their size, target market, and product offering.
Here are a few questions to answer to help you better understand your competition:
- What is their primary product or service offering? What do they do? How do they do it?
- Who is their ideal client? Who do you think their customer is? What do you know about them?
- What target market do they serve? What do you know about this group?
- What is their “big idea”? How do they help people? What’s the main benefit they deliver?
- What do they do well? List a few things they do really well. Why do you think they do these things so well?
- How could they improve? List a few things they don’t do so well. What should they be doing instead?
Day 7 Action Item—Identify Your Competition
Today you’re going to do a little research on one competitor. While doing your research online, be sure to have a notepad or your 21 Days to Build a Better Brand Workbook handy so you can jot down any insights about your competition as you discover them. Try to answer as many of the questions above as possible.
Coming up: Tomorrow you’ll identify how you can differentiate from your competition and create your unique selling proposition.
Today marks the end of week one of the 21 Days to Build a Better Brand series. I want to hear how everything is going for you! Send me a message and let me know if you have any questions or need help with anything.
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