You may be really good at your business. You may have an excellent service or product, great customer service, a fantastic web presence and more. But all that doesn’t matter if your competition is exceeding you in all these areas. Your consumers aren’t interested in your earnest attempts to run a small business. Rather, they’re going to be loyal to the company that gets them what they need in the best way possible. And this is exactly why it’s crucial to know exactly what your competition is up to.

What Is Competitive Analysis?

Analysis tools look at your competition, and in some cases even industry trends, to see what other industry businesses are doing differently and better than your business. Luckily, we live in a digital era flourishing with websites, newsletters, social media and more. You don’t even have to literally walk into an office or shop, nor meet anyone face to face – though you should also be considering this if either you or your competition have store fronts.

It also isn’t enough for you to eyeball all this material on your own. First, you’re going to be biased. Second, you may not know what you’re looking for, or at. It’s best to bring in one or two consultants to offer a comparison between you and your leading competitors. A qualified consultant will research the businesses, compare data and even offer tips that you can implement to level the playing field.

Why You Need to Conduct a Competitive Analysis

The analysis offers a range of benefits. First, you get a much more in-depth understanding of your business, including why perhaps your profits weren’t that high last quarter. Was there something your competition was doing that was attracting business away? Once you’re able to locate problem areas, you’re then in a position to do something about them. In this case, ignorance isn’t bliss, it’s dangerous.

By conducting an analysis, you can chart the way for what should be highest on the list of priorities in your marketing department. Maybe there’s a specific thing your competitor is doing that is attracting more clients for any number of reasons. If you can pinpoint the difference then your number one priority is improving your company or service in the same area. Or perhaps a bit of web research leads you to find that most of your competitors’ site visitors are coming from websites, agencies or sources you’re not affiliated with.

But all analysis isn’t bad news. You may discover that your business far exceeds your competition, in which case this gives you a selling or branding point.

Tools to Help You Get the Best Analysis

There’s no hard and fast rule to assessing your competition, but the following tools will help you get there:

Fast Blog Finder – All analysis doesn’t have to be straight website to website. As I’ve mentioned before, a blog is crucial to any business and I don’t care what industry you’re in. Take a smart back door approach and use Fast Blog Finder to find competing blogs. Plug in your keywords and you’ll get a list of blogs along with their site data.

Keyword Searches – I cannot stress enough how important keyword searches are. You can Google relevant keywords and see what sites are popping up first. Then take those sites and cross reference your site with those sites in terms of keyword listings. SEOMoz is great for this. On the same note, use Google Trends to see which keywords and phrases people are actually using to get to that website and Keywords Spy Pro gives you a list of sites getting the most juice for a word/phrase.

Websitegrader – A free tool that rates your websites marketing prowess. Another free tool can be found at I Need Hits, which I recommend you use as a support tool rather than a primary tool.

If this is sounding like too much work, you can employ the services of a professional consultant or company that can do this for you. Some to check out include Vizion Interactive and WSI. If you’re going with the company route, remember that hiring an independent contractor might be cheaper and just as good.


作者 Shireen Qudosi

Shireen Qudosi is Benchmark Email's Online Marketing Specialist and Small Business Advocate. An Orange County based writer, Shireen specializes in online marketing and public relations. She has written for over 75 publications and has launched nine successful new media campaigns to date. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Denver Post, the Oklahoman and Green Air Radio, among others.