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.

Looking to the future – The next normal

Looking to the future – The next normal

Looking to the future - the next normal blog post.

How do you communicate with your customers as your operations start to re-open?

As restrictions are gradually lifted how do we change our ways of working to accommodate the new normal?  Getting customer communications right is critical to your business’s success in the gradual re-opening of services, as consumers are looking for businesses that make them feel safe and secure.

Communicating a re-opening message tailored to each channel

Do you communicate with your customers? Image of managing director sharing a video with his team.

What strategies can you use to make your message resonate with your customers? You can’t just send an email with the facts. You must communicate with empathy to connect with your customers. For example, instead of an email from the Managing Director, film a short video speaking directly to customers and then this can be to embedded into an email or newsletter to connect directly with them.

Stay Aware – Stay Safe!

We need to be able to empathise with what our customers are going through. If your business involves contact with customers re-assure them that you have measures put into place to protect them and you.

Email & Newsletters

Why this works? Facebook might have over 1.5 billion daily users, but email has over 3.8 billion daily active users.  So,  your audience will also be checking their Inbox. Every single day!

You probably check your email over a dozen times a day… and people do this in all sorts of weird places.

  • 69% check while watching television
  • 54% check while in bed
  • 43% check on the toilet!
  • 34% check while they’re walking
  • 32% check while eating dinner
  • 32% check on their work commute
  • 18% check during the middle of conversations
  • 14% check while they’re driving
  • 6% check at formal events

People like getting emails.  Stay in touch but, not too much, so that people don’t disengage and your messages become just spam!

Social Media – What do you post on social media?

  • Ask questions! Not only do questions create great engagement opportunities, they also create moments for meaningful connection with your followers.
  • Thank your customers for their continued support, for their understanding during this difficult time.
  • Tell your followers how you’re doing business now … if you’re closed, let them know. If you’re online, let them know. If you’re open. Let them know!
  • Tell the story of what’s going on … for the majority of us, we’ve all had to pivot. The way we do business has flipped itself upside down. SHARE what’s going on for you. Be visual and be vocal. Share behind-the-scenes insights at what your day looks like at the moment, do a FB or an IG live

Wrapping Up!

Be positive, supportive and helpful and offer messages for the future.  There is so much circulating and you don’t want to add to the negativity, so try and post the upbeat stuff. Share news articles, blog posts, video clips, or tips. Let us know if Concise can help you during this time.  We are happy to like your page or posts or have a free call with you to give you some creative ideas.  We also 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.

Locked Down but not Locked Out!

Locked Down but not Locked Out!

How do you market your business during COVID-19?  This is a big question! and not all the answers are available because we have never faced a situation like this before in our lifetime.

The last example of this was the Spanish Flu in 1918. Over 100 years ago they would have faced different challenges but at least now we have the internet to stay connected to our customers, followers, friends and family.

Businesses are coming up with new ways to market their businesses, Social Media Managers are adjusting their content calendars and coming up with new creative campaigns to promote their products and services. Staying connected is more important than ever, with businesses relying on social media and working from home tools such as Zoom and Skype for meetings or content sharing tools such as Dropbox.

In fact, overall, Facebook usage has increased by 37% and across the messaging platforms, Facebook and Instagram saw a 40%+ increase in the 18-34 age group.

So how should you be using social media for business during COVID-19?

Let your followers know you are listening and acknowledge the new normal. 

Celebrity Instagram business owner Kristen Cavallari is a good example of this, she acknowledged that this was a very unusual time for everybody but she was having a 20% off sale to try and keep her 100 staff employed and by doing so not appearing to be capitalising on the current situation.

Keep Posting

People are spending more time than ever online and you should stay connected to them. Even if you are unable to sell your services right now share content that offers help and support in a way that keeps your brand ‘in front of mind’.  For example, a travel company could suggest places to visit (perhaps UK based) once lockdown is finished or a restaurant could share recipes of their food to cook at home. Think of ways your business can help now so people remember you in their future.  Look at how Body Shop has been posting positive messages and images of their products being used at home including repurposing their packaging as plant pots! Get creative with your posts!

Be Empathic – Feel Their Pain!

Remember that some of your followers may have lost their jobs or have had to put their businesses on hold. You don’t have to mention COVID-19 in your posts but acknowledge the difficulty they may be in. They may not be able to purchase goods or services right now but by empathising with them the aim is to stay connected with your followers when we come out the other side.

Engage, Engage, Engage!

Focus on engagement by providing extra education through videos, carousel posts, or captions share your story, and clearly communicate how your followers can support your business right now. With online video tools, you are able to connect directly to your audience.  So many services are now operating remotely but still staying in touch.  Even hairdressers are offering video tips to trim your own hair if you’re brave enough!  But the point is that whatever your business there are ways to stay in touch with your followers and the ultimate goal is retention of your followers.

Joe Wicks The Body Coach is a good example of this offering free online daily 30 minute classes for all ages.  Staying connected and providing a service people can do from home.

 Top Tips for the next few weeks

Share Videos – Educational, informative, what you’re working on from home and tips.  It may be on Facebook Live or Instagram Live. if you haven’t used video before it’s a good time to start learning – particularly if it is not the most comfortable media for you!  Mary has been experimenting with Facebook Live within the safety of the Concise Support Group.  If you are a member of the group, join her at 2pm every Tuesday to share top tips.

Create Good Habits – Now is a good time to establish good social media habits that you can use throughout the year. Whether it is scheduling regular posts, doing a spring clean on your channels or setting time aside each day to engage with your followers.

Get Creative – Virtual classes, how-to videos, virtual tours, challenges from home (post the results) free service/advice for when the lockdown ends.

Share your thoughts – We are all in the same storm but not all in the same boat! Share your story, and clearly communicate how your followers can support your business right now.

Use Images – Images are a good way to highlight your topic and grab attention.  Only use your own images or images from stock sites or free stock sites such as Pexels, or Unsplash

Let us know if Concise can help you during this time.  We are happy to like your page or posts or have a free call with you to give you some creative ideas.  We also 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.