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Identifying and realigning competitors

When working with a new client or working for a new company, it is very easy to take your client’s or company’s word for it on who their competitors are. This could set you up for a fall and render all marketing efforts and your marketing strategy redundant.

Ensuring that your client’s/company’s perceived competitors are correct is an integral part of auditing new client or company marketing efforts, before creating any kind of strategy or planning any marketing campaigns.

Why ‘getting it right’ is important

A great example of ‘getting it wrong’ and why ‘getting it right’ is so important is from a client I worked with many years ago when I was on board at a digital agency.

The client – a local, business-to-business, medium-sized company had perceived competitors who were large, London based, national companies and so it quickly became apparent that we needed to challenge this.

The client was spending all of their working hours and all of their transportation on travelling to London to service the same areas as their perceived competitors leaving them ill-equipped and with no time left to service their local area. We calculated that in the time it took to travel to London, the company could’ve serviced the whole local area whereas they were only servicing one or two London-based customers in that same time.

Changing the focus away from London where they believed their competitors were large, London-based, national companies to having them focus their attention on regional companies and customers meant that the company was spending less time travelling to and from London for one job and could travel to several areas within the region over the same time, servicing many customers as opposed to one, thus immediately making more money.

Identifying competitors

Given the above example of ‘getting it wrong,’ it is important to understand how to identify a direct competitor. The main things to think about when doing this are:

1. The products/ services offered – are they offering the same things as you?

2. Geographical location/ service area – are they operating in your area?

3. Company size – are they the same size as your company, with the same amount of resources?

4. The competitor’s existing customer base – do you share the same customers, or do they have your dream customers?

Realigning competitors

Once it has become apparent that your client’s or company’s perceived competitors differ to the ones you have identified, it is easy to realign competitors and take steps to outperform them.

Using digital tools such as SpyFu, Mention, Buzzsumo, and Brandwatch will allow you to closely monitor competitors’ digital activities including their keywords, ad spend, backlinks, and page rankings. You can thereby stay one step ahead.

Accurate marketing saves money

Accurately identifying or realigning your client’s or company’s competitors will allow you to streamline your marketing efforts, target the right people, and monitor your competitors effectively.

It will ultimately allow you to reduce wasted marketing spend by becoming more efficient and will allow you to gain intelligence on what your ‘real’ direct competitors are doing, stopping you from focusing on the wrong perceived competitors and areas.