Marketing can basically be broken down into two elements: defining your audience and convincing them to choose your company over the competition. That seems easy enough on the surface. Your audience is the demographic you feel could benefit most from your product or service. The competition are other companies marketing the same products to the same demographic.
Easy, peasy, right?
Not so fast.
Your competition is not necessarily a tit-for-tat enterprise that fishes the same pool of prospects and produces the same exact products as yours. You need to identify who they are, but also locate and monitor other forms of competition that may not seem so apparent, especially in an eCommerce sphere where new rivals can pop up literally overnight.
Direct Competitors vs Indirect Competitors
In marketing terms, there are four basic varieties of rivalry. Each requires a different approach if you want to eliminate them.
1. Direct Competitors
These are the companies that you would traditionally recognize as competition. They’re in the same geographic location as your company, market the similar product lines or services, and have the same basic audience. For example, a dental practice in a small community would have a limited reach if there are other dental practices in the same neighborhood.
How do you identify them? Through conducting market research, checking online forums or social media communities, and through generic searches for similar businesses.
2. Indirect Competitors
These are companies that don’t compete with you directly, but there’s some overlap in terms of products and demographics. They could also compete with you online by using the same search terms in their content. Consider a local supermarket competing with a brand like Walmart that also sells groceries or an eCommerce shop selling health products that draws customers away from your holistic lifestyle brand by using the same search terms and audience segment
How do you identify them? Mainly through keyword research. You can either conduct a competitive analysis of keywords related to your value proposition, conduct a search by keyword to locate brands using those same keywords or phrases in their content, or by searching AdWords to identify those with high competition.
3. New Market Entrants
These are startups attempting to bring competing products to the market. They’ll be working much harder to lure customers away from existing, more established brands.
How do you identify them? You’ll notice new ads or social media posts popping up. If you’re suddenly losing business, it may be because they’re trying a new brand. Talk to your customers, both current and previous, to find out what’s going on.
4. Substitute Competitors
They don’t necessarily sell the same products as you, but they’re competing for the same spending. Think in terms of stores all competing for holiday shoppers or cafes and mini-markets on the same street trying to attract lunch time business.
How do you identify them? If they’re in your same geo-location you can usually spot them. For online competitors, keyword research is again very useful.
Out-Marketing the Competition
Now that you’ve identified the competition, how do you, um, compete? Here are five proven strategies.
1. Re-Tool Your SEO Strategy
Start by using fewer keywords and more long-tail keyword phrases. These are more specific, which means that traffic is more likely to find your website when using them. Next, transition away from highly competitive keywords in favor of those that are high-volume but low competition.
You can also use topic clusters in your content. These are clusters of related words that yield high search volume dependent on how they’re grouped. For example, a topic cluster around art restoration could include key phrases like “restoring oil paintings”, “preserving your art work” and similar terminology. This helps Google evaluate search intent as it relates to your brand.
2. Lurk on the Competitor’s Pages
The best way to beat the competition is to know what they’re doing and do it better or fill in gaps where their brand falls short. Visit their website and study it thoroughly. Subscribe to their blog and create better content. Read customer testimonials and user or industry reviews of their products to identify areas where you can excel.
3. Talk to Your Customers
Your customers are the first – and best – resource if you want to test which way the wind is blowing. Customer feedback will tell you where you company falls short and where you’re commanding loyalty. Play to your strengths and minimize or eliminate your shortcomings.
4. Niche Marketing
Look for under served or untapped demographics or niches that you can dominate. For example, if you’re in competition with a popular shoe company, specialize in a specific type or brand of shoes. Look at user reviews to identify products or services that customers wish were available or features that another product lacks.
5. Explore New Markets
If the internet has succeeded in anything it’s the ability to tap into new markets that were inaccessible before. Overseas, you can identify dozens of opportunities for new markets and audiences that were saturated or over-tapped back home.
For example, creating a fitness app that dovetails nicely with a government push toward fitness. Or, you might discover a market among ex-pats for food items that are unavailable in their new location but sorely missed.
It’s not enough to be aware of the competition and try to convince consumers that you’re better. You need to separate direct and indirect competition, differentiate yourself by adding value, and refine your approach by segmenting your leads and marketing to them according to where they are in their journey.
Even if your marketing instincts are next-level savvy, it helps to have a team in place who can transform your ideas into a viable strategy that gets measurable results. The marketing team at Level343 has a wide breadth of marketing experience in a range of industries, and we can’t wait to put it to work for your brand. Get in touch with us to arrange a consultation today.