When developing a new strategy for a business growth, most marketers start off with a thorough competitor research process. After all, why should you reinvent the wheel? By identifying your competitors, learning from their mistakes and stealing best practices that work for them, you can get great ideas with little effort and less risk. Additionally, highlighting a few selected rivals as benchmarks and monitoring them in real-time using online tools will allow you to never miss a beat. Therefore, knowing how to do competitor research is key. So how does it work?

How To Do Competitor Research

In today’s digital age, the biggest error a marketer can do is to jump to conclusions and merely rely on gut feelings. With countless tools available to support your competitor research process with objective metrics and insights, you can leverage the power of data with ease. If you don’t, you can bet your rivals will, so you’d be handing them a huge advantage over your business.

In general, there are many different competitor analysis frameworks that share the same purpose – to gather more information about your competition and use it to tailor your strategy.Competitor SWOT Analysis, Competitive Landscape Analysis and Porter’s Five Forces Framework are just a few examples. While each takes a different approach, they have a lot in common. So here’s how to to carry out competitor research by leveraging data:

1 Analyze your current situation

Before looking at any competitors, you need to understand who you are. This is particularly important if you’re new to the company, but even if you’re more experienced, this step can reveal new insights. Speak to different departments and functions such as sales, marketing, finance, R&D and management. Take a look at objective financial data as well as other reports and analyze your business. This will help you a great deal when it comes to identifying competitors and comparing yourself to them.

2 Find your main competitors

After analysing your own business, it’s time to search for competitors. Remember to not only focus on direct competitors but also indirect ones that might offer solutions that, while not the same as your offering, could substitute your products too. To find your rivals, look at industry reports, participants at relevant trade shows and conferences and industry news. To add even more businesses to your list instantly, use digital tools to research and scan through different keywords that might best describe your product, service or solution.

3 Analyze your biggest rivals

Once you have built your long-list, it’s time to identify the best performing and most relevant competitors for benchmarking and more in depth analysis. For this you can use techniques such as or, if you can’t get enough data, you can just focus on a few metrics that are more important to your business success.

Look at your data and select the biggest rivals. Next, do some in-depth profiling about them by looking at their background, financials, products, marketing, personnel and strategies. You can also put more emphasis on a specific category if your research is aimed at a certain business function.

4 Monitor your competition

The business sector is not static but constantly evolving. Your competitor research should reflect that. To really edge out your rivals, monitor them and your benchmarks continuously. A one-off survey won’t be enough. Continuous monitoring will help you to identify any threats such as new competitors, features or campaigns in-time and to spot new trends and opportunities before anyone else does. Finally, don’t forget to look out for new competitors regularly.

Conclusion

Understanding how to do competitor research is fundamental to business success. By following the four steps above you can access invaluable insights about your business competitors and use them to your advantage whilst drafting your strategy. Remember that after evaluating your business, finding your rivals and analyzing them, the process doesn’t end there. Track them in real-time with the help of technology and you’ll be faster to react to competitor updates, spot new opportunities and trends and constantly gage how well you’re performing compared to your rivals.