All brands have competition. To claim that your brand doesn’t have competition means that you’re not aware of what’s going on in your industry. If your brand has experienced any significant level of success, they’re watching you. Even if the competition isn’t direct, there’s always someone scrutinising your brand, predicting your next move and making plans for staying ahead and luring your customers over to their side.
So how can you keep up…and stay ahead?
The short answer? Do all the same things they’re doing, as listed above.
The long answer? Read on for specifics on how you can stay competitive, in a market where the competition has the same goals as you.
Building a Competitive Brand: Best Practices
A large part of being competitive is knowing what the competition is up to. I would never suggest stalking your competitors or mimicking their actions; however, it is important to know what they’re doing and whom they’re targeting, as well as what you expect their next move(s) to be, so you can remain proactive, rather than reactive.
Start with these best practices, used by all the most competitive market leaders.
- Get on the Mailing List: Do your competitors offer a newsletter? Or a sign-up for regular communications? Get on it. Receiving competitor updates in your inbox is the easiest way to stay “in the loop” and to know what the competition is up to.
- Know the News: Set up Google Alerts for the brand names that compete with your brand. Also set up Google Alerts for general industry terms and keywords. The notifications you receive will keep you up-to-date on industry news, industry trends…and your competitors’ parts in all of it.
- Get to know your Customers: If your customers have been around the industry for a while, they are probably familiar with your competitors. Be blunt. Ask your customers whom they would also consider doing business with, and why. Ask them what your competition is doing that they wish you would do. Show an interest in their satisfaction, and you’ll accomplish two things: you will gain valuable insights into the market AND you will show your customers that you genuinely care (and they will repay you with brand loyalty).
- Get to know their Customers: You’ve heard us say that your brand isn’t what you say it is; but rather, what your customers say it is. Keeping this in mind, shouldn’t it be important to know what the competitions’ customers are saying about them? Follow those customers on social media. Pay close attention to what they’re saying they like…and don’t like. Look for perceived gaps in service and look for ways to outdo the competition by giving the industry’s consumers what they’re hoping for.
- Listen to what the Competition is Saying: Beating the competition isn’t always about outdoing them, task by task. Sometimes it’s about learning from them—and using what you learn to develop your own unique spin on their best practices. So listen. Read. Attend. Be present. Absorb what they’re saying about the things they do best, and then go your own way.
- Compete in the Keyword Game: If you’ve bid on keywords for PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, you know that the best ones cost the most money. This is keyword competition. What keywords are your competitors using? And are they gaining online attention with them? Choose your approach: compete using those same keywords (with better SEO), or choose keywords with lower competition or higher search rates. SpyFu, SimilarWeb and Alexa are a few apps designed to help you track competitors’ keywords.
- Trace Competitors’ Search Engine Rankings: Is your main competitor ranked first or fifteenth in search engine results? Has that changed this week? Why did it change…what are they doing that caused their ranking to improve or decline? Track this and learn from the competitions’ choices, and you’ll know more about how to proceed (successfully) with your own brand.
Watching the competition isn’t always about keeping up and predicting next moves. Sometimes, it’s just about getting your head out of your own brand and looking in from the outside for a bit. Observing your competitors is a great way to accomplish this, and to gain an impartial view of how your brand “stacks up.”
Looking for more techniques for building a brand that’s competitive…and a market leader? Then may I suggest the B.R.A.N.D. Building Bootcamp? It’s a full day of brand-building advice, designed especially for those entrepreneurs and business owners who want to put their brands on the fast-track to credibility, visibility and profitability. Learn more here.