Since Kompyte is in the business of tracking and analyizing your competition online, we spend most of our waking hours developing better methods for conducting competitor analysis. In fact, you could say we’re obsessed with it. Before we developed the tool that painlessly handles the dirty work automatically and provides you with clear, actionable reports on your competition, we had to do it the old fashioned way: countless hours spent scouring of the infinite web and social media galaxies trying to collect some insight on just what the competition is up to.
Well, call us old fashioned, or perhaps a bit nostalgic for those bad old days, we want to provide some insight on conducting a competitor audit by hand. This therapeutic routine practice of puling our heads out of the sand and taking a look around should be done time to time to make sure we’re still in the lead (or hunting down whoever is). Besides, this will give you an understanding of just how hard the Kompyte machines are working to do all of this for you automatically.
Competitive Audit? What’s the point?
While it’s a slippery slope to becoming too concerned about the competition, not paying attention to them at all puts you at risk of missing major industry trends and landing in the growing heap of irrelevant businesses. Running an effective competitive analysis will help you understand the following:
- Who you’re competing against (both directly and indirectly)
- What products and services they are offering and at what prices
- How they are positioning their brand in the marketplace
- What marketing techniques they are employing to increase their market share.
Didn’t someone invent a SaaS product that can do all of this for me?
Yes, they did and that ‘someone’ was us. But don’t you think it’s important to understand the fundamentals behind the curtain of Kompyte’s powerful competitor tracking software? Otherwise, the machines will win, and our children’s children will never fully appreciate what their forefathers had to endure. Is that what you want? Of course not. So roll up your sleeves and put your back into it as we step back from our work and take a quick look around to see what the “other guys” are up to.
The first step is to identify your competitors.
1. Start with your 5 most direct competitors to frame your research. Believe me, this list will grow, but start with 5 for your core competitors list. Rank them in order based on their ideal customer, or the “person” they exist to serve. The direct competitor who is “talking to” the customer that most closey resembles your ideal customer will be public enemy number one in your ranking.
Pretend you’re their ideal customer and poke around a bit. What’s their brand’s personality, voice and tone? Are they buttoned up and professional or casual and witty? What do they say about themselves in the About Us section or on social media? Do they have landing pages? Free content to download? Take it all in until you can’t a picture of their position in the marketplace.
2. Choose a “best in class” brand that exemplifies the way great online marketing should be executed. Since the vast majority of businesses are terrible at this, you may have to reach outside your direct competitors or even outside of your industry to find one of these high-flying all-stars. For us, we’re just bananas about HubSpot. They’re our benchmark for first class SaaS online marketing so we use them as our inspiration and place them at the top of our “to be like” list.
3. Next, make a chart. No matter which industry you compete in, the business landscape is changing at an accelerating rate so you need something to keep you organized and track changes over time. HubSpot offers a simple chart to organize the key information about your competitors, their content and their social media.
4. As the chart grows you’ll begin to see patterns emerging. Is everyone using the same keywords or similar sales jargon? What are the differences and similarities across the industry landscape? As you build your chart, you can add more competitors by running Google searches for the common keywords. See who’s paying for placement and who has the best SEO. You can also check out comparing sites like Capterra or Softonic to see who you’re being compared to and ranked against by the so-called “experts”.
More importantly, this chart will begin to show you gaps in the market. You’ll be able to see who’s needs are not being met and how to position your brand to be truly unique. You can identify niche industry needs and exploit them with tailored special offers no one else is providing. Lastly, it will open new opportunities to become experts and thought-leaders to a specific group by creating valuable content they are searching for but no one is creating yet.
Disclaimer #2: Don’t get all obsessed with your competition and forget about your own product offering. In fact, now that you’ve learned the basic fundamentals to an online competitive audit, you can skip all that and give Kompyte’s free trial a try 😉 It does all this hard work and research for you while you’re focused on building your best possible product. What’s that Picasso quote?
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”