How and Why Should a Small Business Conduct a Competitor Analysis?

How and Why Should a Small Business Conduct a Competitor Analysis?

Starting a Competitor Analysis – Do I Have Any Competitors?

Do you know how to conduct a competitor analysis? As a small business, you are likely to be in competition with other businesses to attract customers. You may think that the product or service you offer is so unique that no other business offers the same – but is that what your potential customers think?

If your product/service is that unique, you may have a problem finding customers who don’t know the product/service exists – but that is a whole different blog post.

Why Should I Conduct a Competitor Analysis?

I wouldn’t suggest getting too hung up on what your competitors are doing on a (say) weekly basis, but I would suggest undertaking a competitor analysis every 6 – 12 months and certainly when starting out in business. If you can understand your main competitors – from the point of view of your audience – and how they are promoting their products/services, you will be able to identify:

  1. The ways you can make your offering different – price point, customer service, added value, etc.
  2. Different content you can produce to attract your ideal audience. (Identifying your ideal audience is covered in a separate blog post).
  3. What marketing content seems to have worked for your competitors (and not worked) so you can put your own spin on it. Don’t copy ideas directly as that doesn’t do anything for your reputation, but take a concept and add your own branding/ideas and viewpoint.
  4. What social media channels they are using and which are resulting in engagement. Make sure comments/likes or not just from the same people/staff.
  5. Successful engagement will come from the audience of the business.
  6. The keyword phrases they are using on their website, hashtags, and social profiles. You might find new phrases you haven’t thought of or see they are not making use of optimisation across websites and social.
  7. The customer journey on the competitor’s websites. What ideas can you use to improve the customer journey on your own site?
  8. The language used on all their marketing content. Do you need to change the language you use?
  9. Any reviews the competitor has received – both positive and negative

Who Are Your Competitors?

From the point of view of your audience, you need to consider both direct and obvious competitors and indirect competitors.

For Example:

An independent coffee shop (Cathy’s Coffee) has just opened in my nearest town. There are direct competitors – other independent coffee shops and tea rooms as well as a global brand.

There is also indirect competition such as a book shop, delicatessen, a bakery and pubs that offer coffee and an antique shop. Even the curry house sells takeaway coffee during the day.

In addition, there is competition from substitute products. Particularly post Covid, drinking high-quality coffee at home is an alternative to getting your coffee from a coffee shop.

The owner of Cathy’s Coffee needs to consider each of the competitors and note down:

  • How the experience offered by Cathy’s Coffee is different.
  • What products and services are offered by Cathy’s Coffee compared to the competitors.
  • Opportunities for promotion include channels, keywords/hashtags/competitions based on what the competitors are doing/are not doing.
  • The strengths/weaknesses of the competitors compared to Cathy’s Coffee.
  • The changes that need to be implemented by Cathy’s Coffee to compete with the competition.

How Many Competitors Should Be Reviewed?

You need to be realistic about who your competitors are. If you are a local business, you can easily identify the competitors within your location. As a business offering products or services nationally you may find it harder. In my opinion, you need to identify the main competitors who will be found by the audience who will realistically also find you.

For example, Concise Digital offers web design services (amongst other things) – as do many businesses in the UK. We can look at our competitors locally – in the Faringdon / Oxfordshire area. However, since much of our business comes from personal referrals based on business networks I belong to, it would make sense to also consider website designers who also attend the same business networks.

This may still give me a long list so I would tend to select 4 – 6 competitors to identify how we can position ourselves to look different.

This Seems Like a Lot of Work

Competitor analysis can be very informative and give you lots of ideas for content and how you can position yourself for the next year. It can make a real difference to your business’s success. However, it is only worth doing if you are going to make an action list, prioritise actions based on quick wins/ most impact, and set a timeline to implement each action.

HubSpot has a competitor analysis template that you can download for free if you subscribe to their mailing list. It contains all the information for you to look for in your competitors and your own business.

Let us know if you have any questions or would like any help conducting your competitor analysis.

Are You Making The Best Use Of Your Social Media Profiles?

Are You Making The Best Use Of Your Social Media Profiles?

Are your companies social media profiles relevant and up to date?

How many of you have social media profiles for your business? Have you spent any time reviewing them recently? How do they reflect on the brand of your business?

Do you know that there are still many businesses out there who set up social media profiles a long time ago but haven’t really looked at them since?

Ever since we started Concise way back in 2008, we have always had the same mantra – use a few channels well rather than loads of channels badly.

In our qualification City & Guilds Diploma in Digital Marketing, we have a scenario in which a business does a search for a potential supplier. This supplier has empty or very old content in their social media profiles. The question we pose is “What does this say about the supplier – how trustworthy are they?” Our suggested answer is that more research would be needed before starting work with the supplier – they might not be in business anymore – or they may just not have the time and skills to keep their profiles up to date. It isn’t helpful to make your potential customers have to do more work before contacting you though – it probably isn’t the best first introduction.

How do you ensure your business profiles appear trustworthy? I would suggest at a minimum:

  • The social media profile picture should be a logo or professional photo of an individual (depending on the business/profile under discussion).
  • The bio should be complete and explain the products and services offered.
  • Accurate contact information or link to website included where possible.
  • Ideally, the cover photo (that big image behind the profile picture) if one exists should be a branded image. This is a marketing space and you can change it regularly depending on the time of the year, products/services you are promoting, or offers you want to shout about.
  • The social media profile should be active – not only post regularly but also reply to any comments. If you just post without replying, you can look like you are just a robot 😊
  • Connections – you should be building up your follower numbers. A profile not followed by anybody is unlikely to appear trustworthy!

Want to take your social media profile one step further? I would encourage you to:

  • Add branding elements to the images you post. This might be as simple as adding a logo or could take the form of creating posts around elements of your branding.
  • Focus on sharing information that is useful or added value rather than information about you and your business.
  • Use hashtags – where appropriate for the channel. This may involve posting separately to different channels. Instagram for example, can take up to 30 hashtags, this does not look right on Facebook posts.
  • Identify and develop your brand voice to ensure consistency across posts and channels to ensure you identify with your target audience and correctly represent your brand.
  • Your social media profile is how you appear to somebody when you are not in the room – don’t ignore the impression you can make.

If you need help with your online profiles, do get in touch or call on 07799 634835 or explore our social media content management packages.

Building Your Brand Online

Building Your Brand Online

Your brand building strategy requires a whole different approach.

It is easier than ever before to raise awareness with brand building in today’s digital era. Branding tools have changed so much in recent years. Brand building strategy today requires a whole new approach. Classic methods like TV spots and print advertisements are not enough. But the main goal remains the same — to be in demand.

What Is Brand Building?

An example of how Nike use brand building online.The definition of brand building is to generate awareness about your business using strategies and campaigns with the goal of creating a unique and lasting image in the marketplace.

  • Creating a unique memorable identity.
  • Promise of value.
  • Emotional connection between your company and its consumers.

 

We all know the Nike tagline: Just Do It. But do you know their mission statement?

Nike’s mission is: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world“. The company has built up such a reputation and brand following, that it’s able to increase the target to accommodate every “body”.

7 Tips to get you started

How can your brand stand out in the ocean of companies, logos, social media pages, websites, infographics? Being unique and sincere is a great place to start. Here are some tips to help you build your brand.

  1. Logo Development

logo is one of the most important visual details of a brand. A good logo should not be affected by short-lived trends. It should represent your mission and values. If you feel that your logo does not match these principles, it might be time to rebrand it.

Once you are happy with the logo design, it’s time to apply it to your website, social media and apps. Good design will make your website memorable and perhaps gain a place in the customer’s bookmark panels.

  1. Mobile Apps

A strong online platform where you can connect with your customers is a must-have tool for business. It could be a mobile app or a web-based platform. Recently mobile apps have become essential for businesses requiring contactless services. Business has had to adapt fast to keep up with the ever-changing environment.  Mobile app usage has increased 50% in 2020 and is a valuable tool in your marketing toolbox.

  1. Social Media Channels and Messaging Apps

To be on top, brands have to present a consistent message over all available platforms.  Optimise your profiles on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and other top social channels. There are social media management tools to make this task a lot easier. 10 million messages are sent between companies and potential customers on Facebook Messenger every month, it’s not just for emojis!

  1. Effective Feedback

Social media can connect people to you instantly. Being real and showing who you are, earning trust, and forming relationships with the audience. People prefer interacting with people, even online.

  1. Make It Visual

Content that contains one or more images has an engagement level that is 2.3x higher than content without visuals. Leverage the poser of images and videos for generating more visibility in articles, blogs, media posts.

  1. Video Marketing

Video marketing is one of the most essential trends today. These stats demonstrate the need to include video; 70% of customers say that they have shared a brand’s video, 52% answer that watching brand videos makes them more confident to make online purchase decisions.

  1. Team Up With an Influencer

Influencer marketing is a kind of word-of-mouth marketing. An Influencer is a personality with a huge following who helps spread the word about your company through their social channels. It is someone who suits your brand. Look for the off-beat influencers whose activity is tangential to your business. This practice remains the top one among branding trends in 2020.

Summing Up

Doubtless, the main importance of brand building is maintaining authentic relationships with customers rather than just only trying to sell. Leveraging digital trends in 2020 in the context of well crafted visual strategy will maximise all opportunities of your business growing.

Let us know if Concise Digital can help you during this time.  We are happy to have a free call with you to give you some creative ideas, we can manage your brand on your behalf or we have a full range of short social media courses if you have time on your hands and want to learn how to market your business better yourself.