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  • Leslie Horna

The New Normal: How Do You Measure Up to Your Competition

How does your company compare to others in the marketplace?

Life has completely changed in 2020 - from how and where we work to online schooling, interactive virtual events, entertaining at home, alcohol ordered to-go, and drive-through experiences. Consumer habits have drastically changed in response to these new changes to work and family life. As a result, companies also need to pivot to maintain relevance and revenue among customers/clients.

Competitor audits provide businesses with perspective on how to stand out in the hearts and minds of customers.

Understanding your company’s position in the marketplace will give you the competitive advantage to win new customers and retain current customers. Some of these new customers may even leave other businesses in your industry to become your customer. Analysis of your competitors can be incredibly insightful as your business grows and evolves to meet the needs and demands of your target audience.

A competitor audit reviews who your competitors are, what products or services they offer, product and service pricing, company culture, customer reviews, market share, differentiators, company strengths and weaknesses, how these businesses position themselves in the marketplace, geography, how the market and media respond to them, and how your company differs from the competition. This audit will illuminate competitor weaknesses and challenges to help your company develop strategies and tactics that can head off these obstacles before they come up. In addition, carving out your company’s niche in the market increases your ability to stand out as the preferred choice.

Start with a review of at least three competing organizations, here are five key areas to include in your competitor marketing audit:

1. Creative: Scrutinize brand assets and standards, advertising, collateral, media coverage, multimedia, presentations, and other aspects of competing brand identities. The colors, symbols, and photos used to evoke emotions among target audiences so you’ll want to look at how competitors utilize these tools to facilitate connection with current and potential customers. You may find that certain industries tend to use the same color for certain communications and by breaking out of the norm, your company can stand out visually. It's important to also note how creative assets vary per marketing and communication channel as each channel's users have unique interests and behaviors, making it essential to use appropriate visuals and messaging to win the hearts and minds of your consumers.

Apple's Macbook shows a website with brand messaging

2. Messaging: Evaluate the terminology, tone, sentiment, channels, and frequency with which your competitors talk about their goods or services. This will help determine how to differentiate your mission, vision, and brand communications to address unmet needs in the marketplace. If there’s an overlooked problem or discontent with current choices, there is an opportunity for someone to gain new customers. That someone is YOU.

3. Content Marketing: Review social media channels, blogs, white papers, podcasts, research, assessments, and other forms of content published by competitors. Here, you're evaluating how often content is published and where (channels/platforms), types and subjects of content produced, calls to action, audience engagement with each piece of content, partnership marketing and promotional opportunities with the competitor's brand, and how closely your competitor’s efforts align with their own company mission and vision.

African American man looks at website on his phone.

4. Digital Footprint: Inspect competitor websites to gain insight as to how they’re mapping the customer journey. It's one thing to win the customer, but you also want to see how your competitor keeps audiences engaged over time, across multiple channels, and through various buying cycles. The online user experience will clue you into touchpoints where a member of the target audience converts to a customer. It’s also good to know where you rank in organic search compared to others in your industry. Knowing the top keywords your competitors use to drive organic search traffic will help your company create more dynamic content to outrank the competition. Keyword research may also incite a search engine marketing campaign where you can use paid digital advertising to drive traffic to your company’s website.

5. Experience First-Hand: Depending on the industry, it may be appropriate to shop the competition. For example, in the wellness world, you may want to check out competitor environments, customer service, presentation/packaging, and quality of the product or services sold to gauge how your competitor compares to the customer experience your company provides. Experience audits also demonstrate how well the competitor delivers on what they say they’re offering.

Competition is healthy but can turn ugly, especially when money is involved. There are many different ways of doing business that there are always opportunities for innovation. Knowing not just how to iterate, but how to innovate within your industry will reap big rewards. The key to doing that is differentiating your company from the competition.

For over 18 years, C. Change Consulting has helped brands in the corporate, small business, nonprofit, and government sectors with marketing and communications strategy, research, planning, and execution. If you need brand development, marketing, or communications assistance, please reach out for complimentary services.

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