Success doesn’t come to those who are lost in the dark. If you want your company to succeed, you have to shed light on your competition and get a solid idea of the landscape surrounding you.
Luckily, businesses have a powerful lantern: the competitor audit. These audits are simply the process of taking a look around your market and accurately assessing your competition. The concept may be simple, but the benefits can be profound. With competitor audits, you can:
1. Know instead of wonder
By establishing a systematic competitor auditing process, you’re able to reduce how your bias impacts data. This puts you in the position to make decisions with knowledge rather than guesswork, allowing you to move forward with branding and marketing efforts with a liberating level of confidence.
2. Draw honest conclusions about what you’re up against
Almost every client I meet tells me his or her company is better than the competition. While this is an understandable mindset, it doesn’t really give you much room for improvement. By taking an honest look at your competitors, you have the opportunity to identify where you have room for gains.
3. Learn from competitors’ marketing
By discovering your competition’s marketing tactics, you get the opportunity to discover what works and what doesn’t. Is one of your competitors spending $300 a day on a PPC campaign? Is it effective? Maybe you should think about doing something similar.
4. Draw from competitors’ product offerings
Identify what your competition is pushing and pinpoint gaps to exploit that with your own products. Try to identify their core product offerings along with insular ones that may serve as good profit centers.
5. Find your voice
Discover how to set yourself apart by establishing a unique voice. Find out what tone is being used by your competitors when communicating with clients, and try to describe it in two or three words. For example, I ate at a restaurant the other day and a sign on the table read, “If you’re in a hurry, you’re in the wrong place.” I would describe that tone as arrogant, confident, or blunt.
6. Develop better branding
Information about your competitors’ color usage, typefaces, logos, and an array of other branding elements can be useful in helping your design team contextualize your brand. This can be as simple as taking a few screen shots of competitor advertisements for review.
7. Learn from competitors’ social media
Analyze your competition’s social media usage and identify gaps you can take advantage of. Find out which platforms they’re using and what level of engagement they’ve achieved. You need to know what they’re sharing and how often. Keep in mind that social media doesn’t have to create direct sales — it can also be a great way to improve SEO.
8. Establish your focus
Some people like fast food restaurants while others prefer casual dining. They’re competitors, but they’re very different. Who are your competitors and how are they positioning themselves in the market? What’s their focus? By answering these questions, you have a better opportunity to establish your own focus in a way that will set your company apart.
9. Arm yourself with competitors’ valuation
How much are they worth and how financially stable are they? What factors contribute to their financial situation and how can you exploit those factors?
10. Learn from competitors’ sales approaches
What are they doing to get leads and land sales? Are they running well-known systems or attending networking events you should be aware of?
11. Analyze competitors’ responsiveness
Test out their lines of communication by calling, emailing, or snail mailing them to find out how they handle non-face-to-face communication with customers.
12. Find out how competitors treat their employees
Learn everything you can about employee pay and benefits. Even if you can’t get exact numbers, having a general idea will still serve as a good barometer for how and why they do or don’t retain talent. It will also tell you what it takes to be successful or unsuccessful in your field.
If it’s used properly, a competitor audit can affect all levels of your business. But what you learn through a competitor audit can’t be restricted to yourself — you have to communicate it throughout your entire company, and you have to make sure everyone truly understands it.