Why do your customers come to you?  Why should they choose you over your competition?  How can you see better results from your marketing? These questions can be easily answered when you arm yourself with competitive intelligence. Using the information you find, you can create a competitive analysis and develop an effective marketing strategy for your business based on the results.

There are more ways to compete than on price alone.  By taking time to do a competitive analysis you’ll clearly show consumers why they should choose you over your competition.  It rarely has to do with pricing alone.

What Is a Competitive Analysis?

When you look at your business compared to your competition and determine the factors that set you apart, you are performing a competitive analysis.  It’s the process of gaining information you can use to differentiate yourself from others in the marketplace.  Using this information, you can weave the results into your marketing plan and capitalize on them.

Look at Target.  They don’t compete solely on price.  By focusing on the fact that their stores provide a simpler and more upscale shopping experience they have created an unparalleled niche for themselves in the marketplace.

Why Should I Do a Competitive Analysis?

If you engage in a battle with your competitors based solely on price, you’ll never win.  You’re turning over control of the success of your business to someone else.

Being aware of your differences and developing competitive marketing strategies that use your uniqueness to attract customers will keep their loyalty and allow you to compete effectively.  When you give your customers a reason to choose you, they will.

How Do I Perform a Competitive Analysis?

In order to capitalize on the benefit of a competitive analysis, you need to have a solid understanding of your target market.  Spend time thinking about which customers are likely to use your services or purchase your products and use that as the starting point for analyzing your competitors and developing your competitive marketing strategy.

If Southwest Airlines didn’t understand exactly who their target market was, they’d be competing on price alone.  While that’s a clear factor in their strategy, they didn’t abandon the entire segment of their target market that expects value and great service at the same time.

A competitive analysis has many components.  A good starting point is to examine your competitor’s website(s).  What do you offer that is different?  In addition to looking at the face of their website, you can also look at the code behind it to determine what market segment they’re targeting.  Further analysis of things like domain authority and their social media strategy will provide additional valuable information.  Armed with this information, you can make strategic marketing decisions to focus on untapped potential customers.

How To Keep Your Competitive Advantage

Maintain your focus on your goals.  Don’t get sidetracked by what your competitors are doing that doesn’t relate directly to your plan and your target market.  Your business is different.  Staying focused on the unique aspects of what you provide and keeping that goal clearly in mind will ensure that your marketing efforts are successful.

Embrace change.  The market will change and your target customer might change.  Set aside time at regular intervals to review your plan and re-examine your original competitive analysis.  Have things moved in a different direction?  Do you need to realign your goals?

Being successful in today’s marketplace involves a balance of clear focus and defined strategies. Be prepared to change, but only as much as is needed in response to market fluctuations.