We ask how to find out about my competitors? There are many assumptions when it comes to finding out about your competitors. In many companies, their competitors generally fall into four categories.
- They are ok
- They are not as good as us
- Or they are in a different league to us
- Who? Never heard of them.
All four are dangerous assumptions. Why? It shows that you likely have very little knowledge of what your competitors are doing. Most of your knowledge is subjective and based on whom you come across in the market. And worse it will be completely wrong.
Who they are
So when asking how to find out about my competitors, it’s essential first to determine who they are. Of course, it’s more than possible to achieve success by ignoring your competitors, just by getting on doing your own thing. It is a risky strategy to have though.
Of all your competitors in your market, some will be more successful than you. Some you may wish to emulate eventually and other you want to beat to the next deal. They will be doing a lot of things right and many things wrong. Wrong in your view and also that of their customers. So by analysing them, you can get a great understanding of what not to do and how to do it within your market sector.
Stand out from the crowd
By studying your competitors, you can assess how to stand out from the crowd. Understand how you are different and what makes a customer choose you and indeed them. Analysing your competition will save you stress and risk, time and money. They can make a costly mistake. A one which you don’t need to repeat. They can come up with a great idea. Perhaps one that has taken a great deal of time and effort to create. You can study what they have done and improve on it.
If you are not looking at your competitors, it’s only a matter of time before your customers are. And you will then have to find some new ones to serve.
Five main types of competitors
There will be many competitors out there, and they mainly break down into five main types. These are direct, indirect, future, potential and replacement (substitutes).
Direct competitors are fighting with you for their share of customers every day. When you think about the competition, these competitors immediately spring to mind.
Indirect competitors are those who work within the same industry as you. But they sell different products or offer alternative services. Think Commercial Litigation lawyer and criminal defence solicitor. Railway company and short-haul cheap airline. You’re still doing the same thing. But you are targeting different customers or offer an alternative way of doing it.
Potential competitors do a similar thing to you. Their target customers are the same as you but are not selling in your market sector. However, there is very little to stop them entering your market should they so wish. They have chosen to ignore your industry for a reason. Perhaps they don’t have sufficient infrastructure. They don’t see the market potential big enough, or the entry barriers are too high for them.
Future competitors are like potential competitors. But, they’re more willing, able and likely to enter your sector for instance. You run a taxi service, and a major corporation like Uber are not in your city yet. Best plan and prepared for their entrance. Some of your future competitors will be brand new start-ups, or their founders are still at school. Someone in the future will disrupt your industry. Best to see it coming.
Replacement competitors (or substitute competitors) offer an alternative product or service to you. But relieve similar customer pain points. Thre is always more than one way to skin a cat, so you will likely have a replacement competitor.
All these competitors types can damage your market share. But which ones are the most dangerous? How do you find to ones that are actually your competitors? Well, the first place to start is not surprisingly, Google or your prefered search engine.
Keywords are not just associated with SEO. Or the platforms who proclaim to answer to all your Competitor Analysis needs. They also help find out who your competitors are.
You should try and work out the keywords and phrase a potential customer would use to search for a product or service like yours. They have a problem, what do they type into the search engines to find a solution?
Now dig deeper and create relevant search queries for your business and competitors.
Remember though there are three main areas to focus on with keywords and search queries.
The searcher has heard of your market sector, and it may be something that solves their problem, for instance. They fancy a new laptop, so they have a quick look.
They now want to know more about an Apple Macbook or Windows laptop. Your prospective customer wants to know what chip to have and how much memory these machines have. They will search for different search terms and keywords than when they were curious.
They have isolated the brand and model they need. Funds are at the ready, and they want to buy a new laptop. They have the intent to purchase. Again, they will have different search terms and keywords.
Build your list of keywords. Break them down by curiosity, research and intent and research. Understand which of your competitors are using these keywords and search phrases. Take a look at social media, Ubersuggest, forums, Google Analytics and market research. Also, put these keywords and phrases through your favourite search engines. Google them and see which competitors pop up. Write down the top twenty organisations that pop up on the first two pages on Google. Include the advertised search listing at the top of the page too. Link these companies to your keywords.
Search for your keywords on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Look at industry forums and more general ones like Quora or Reddit. Which companies reveal themselves on these platforms? Are there any surprises? Why are they there? And if they are not there when you search, why not?
Real World Competitors
Don’t forget to take a look at the competitors in your local area. Assess their website and how well they promote their offering. How well the sales processes and call to actions are. Read any reviews and testimonials they may have. Could you go and visit their sites? What are they projecting to the public?
Once you have done this research, you’ll likely have more competitors than your thought. And it could be very daunting. Now rank them in terms of a direct threat to you. Direct competitors closest to you in the search engine rankings. Place them into:
Your key competitors
The next big thing. Those who have the potential to become key competitors.
Potential competitors who have the resources to smash a hole in the market – For instance, Google developing a similar product to you or Apple buying a key competitor.
Find the competitor
Customer will use the web to find a supplier. So go and find the competitor sites that are just ranking higher than you. Look at what they are good at and what you are better at than them. By investigating what they’re doing well, it could be an opportunity to replicate their ideas. Same if they something they badly, you can exploit the situation.
With indirect competitors, you need to make very clear the differences between you and them. Very clear to the potential customer who will likely know less about what each does. And even less likely to care less about the differences. They only want to know who can solve their problem.
Make sure your site is educational. A unique value proposition that’s easy to understand. And use the keywords you isolated in your earlier research. And ensure they’d understand what you offer that they can’t? Are you cheaper, more cost-effective, quicker or better quality? Set it out in your value proposition.
Suppose you start attracting the attention of a more significant competitor then not to worry. You must be doing something right. Regularly do this sort of Competitor analysis. Because nothing stands still for long. Some of your competitors will go out of business, be bought out or growing thanks to finding new ways of doing things.
This article asked how to find out about my competitors? We discussed the assumptions made when finding out about your competitors. At best, most of your knowledge is subjective and based on whom you come across in the market. And worse it will be completely wrong.