Why Every Business Needs to Conduct Competitive Research (Plus How to Get Started)

Published: February 25, 2021

Torey Azure


Why is competitive research so important? To guarantee you stand out to prospective clients you need to know how you look and sound—especially against your competitors.

At BrandCraft, we use competitor research to inform all functions of marketing. Whether it’s digital marketing placement, design, or content, our goal is to make it stand out from the rest. And we’re not the only ones. According to HubSpot’s 2020 Marketing Report, 72% of businesses currently perform market research. Plus 80% use that research to make key business decisions.

Why You Should Conduct Competitive Research 

The landscape of your industry will change. It’s important to conduct regular competitor research for these reasons: 

Maintain Your Competitive Edge 

80% of consumers are researching you and your competitors before making a final choice. As a result, you need to make sure you stand out with your marketing placement and message. 

Clearly understanding the competitive landscape in your market or industry allows for trend predicting and service innovation. You might notice your competitors aren’t taking advantage of marketing channels like search engines or newer platforms like TikTok. You may even realize their marketing messages and branding don’t speak to certain audiences that have buying power. These are possible opportunities for leverage over your competitors. 

Better Understand Your Customer 

The process of competitor research starts with acting like a customer. That is to say it’s easy to overlook what the sales process looks like for them. You could be missing gaps in your industry’s sales process. Perhaps there is an opportunity to provide more accessible engagement options beyond a contact form – like a chatbot or remote meeting booking option. Sometimes just making it easier for your customer to get started over your competitors is a huge leg up. 

How to Conduct Competitor Research 

Fortune 500 companies invest in tools and teams to conduct deep competitor and trend research. While you might not have the resources the big guys do, there is a lot you can do and gain without their budget. 

Here are tactics we use at BrandCraft that you can implement too. 

Shop the Market Like Your Customer 

While it might be tempting to take your top-of-mind competitors and go straight to their website, try to avoid that. Shopping like an undecided consumer provides better insight into their experience for better or worse, allowing you to find opportunities to improve your customer journey and to see competitors you might not think about. This looks like searching for your product or service on search engines like Google, reviewing social profiles, clicking their ads and posts to their ad placement, content, and ad journey. 

Use Competitive Research Analysis Tools 

Use tools like SpyFu that provide insights on how your competitors rank in search engines and predict their advertising history with search engines. Search engines are not only the digital channel with the most buyer’s intent, meaning users are searching for products or solutions when they are there. Seeing the keywords or phrases your competitors rank for can provide insights on opportunities for you to either dominate search engines where they aren’t or to invest more in keywords you want to compete with them on. 

Take Note of How They Talk About Themselves

The undecided consumer that you are fighting for will rely on what the brand says about themselves to determine if it’s the right fit for them. The tone of their content, the features and benefits they focus on, and the design and imagery they use communicate to a potential customer what their experience with that brand will be like. It’s important to know how your competitors talk about themselves, to ensure you are setting yourself apart with your brand’s tone, content, and design. This all part of positioning your brand.  

Take Note of How Others Talk About Them 

You know your reputation matters – and so does your competitor’s. Read their reviews on Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, or anywhere else they have reviews. Take note of themes or words used by their customers. Compare them to your reviews and see what you find. Are your customers saying the same thing as theirs? Much like how they talk about themselves, reviews are another way to see how your brand’s position stands to your competitor’s. 

Key Take-Aways

  • Never assume how you stack against your competitor. Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer and know how you stack against them.
  • Remember your customers are learning about you before they talk to you. Understanding the first impression your brand makes in comparison to your competition is vital. 
  • Conducting this research regularly can provide insights into new opportunities in the market.  

The hardest part of doing this research is remaining unbiased. Above all, remove what you know about your competitors from your mind to ensure you have fresh eyes like the consumer shopping the market.

If you think you could benefit from fresh eyes comparing you to your competitors, talk to one of our strategists today about a competitor audit. 

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