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Watching the Competition: How Businesses Should be Looking at Their Rivals

Everyone wants their business to be the most well known and well loved. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t get very far and their marketing wouldn’t be very impactful. While some business leaders might find spying on their competitors to get to the top somewhat distasteful, it has become an essential task in order to keep growing at the same pace everyone else is.

Without a doubt, most marketers will have heard about competitor marketing at this point. Understanding what a business is up against in the market has become a non-negotiable part of many companies’ overall marketing strategies. And for good reason.

Now, there’s a big difference between looking at a competitor’s marketing efforts and understanding how or why exactly they’re coming up with their campaigns and ideas. Of course, not every social post or LinkedIn essay from a rival will be useful. Actually, a company might learn more by honing in on a competitors marketing strategy to see if what they’re doing is actually working.

What’s on the surface isn’t the whole story

These days, it doesn’t take a private investigator or a handful of well-trained spies to see what a company’s competition is up to on the surface. Transparency is the name of the game. If a business isn’t widely and loudly proclaiming what projects it’s undertaking at any given moment online, potential customers won’t give them a second thought.

Companies are a little more secretive about their underlying strategies. This doesn’t mean there’s no possible way to discover their secrets. It just means a marketer will need to rely on a few extra tools to help them uncover what’s going on behind the scenes.

How to figure out the strategies competitors are employing

To take a peek behind the curtain, there are a few different tools that can help. The right tools can quickly and effectively illuminate the “why” behind the “what”, and show marketers all kinds of useful things like which long-tail keywords a competitor is using to target potential audiences.

Guesswork isn’t how the pros do it. Instead, they make use of sophisticated online tools to help them learn all kinds of deeper things like where a competitor is putting their monthly marketing budgets. Maybe a competitor is pulling the budget away to work on integrating a clever AI chatbot into their website or service to follow this latest trend. This information might be worth exploring further, especially if the move ends up causing chaos like Snapchat’s chatbot.

The right tool might also reveal which parts of a marketing funnel a competitor is emphasizing for maximum impact. Some tools even allow a marketer to put trackers on their competitors, so every time they shift their strategy, a savvy marketing professional will know right away.

Businesses would be wise to start looking at tools to help them look at their competitors in this way. Instead of guessing at why a company has shifted away from influencer marketing to email marketing, for example, the right competitor intelligence tool will provide more concrete answers. With more specific insights, it’s a whole lot easier to stay ahead and be ready for any quick market strategy changes.

From insights to action

Gaining deeper insights is just the first step to defeating the competition and coming out on top. Understanding how to use all this new, niche information to one’s advantage is where the real potential lies.

Avoid taking learnings and copying them outright. Just because a competitor is throwing all their budget into short form video content on TikTok doesn’t mean doing the same is the best course of action. Maybe it’s better for your strategy to wait and see if a 10-minute video on Instagram is worth waiting for. Consider if a change in their strategy might have formed an opening elsewhere. Maybe, a missed opportunity on their part could be a good chance to do things differently in a way that makes your own company stick out.

With time, insights from tools might let a marketer know when a change isn’t working. Maybe a message didn’t end up resonating the way a rival probably hoped it would. This information could prove very valuable to your own efforts. A business can avoid making the same mistakes without having to spend the same resources if they’re paying attention and taking notes when a gamble from a rival doesn’t go as well as they probably planned.

Above all else, knowledge gained from this deeper kind of competitor analysis should inform and elevate one’s own ongoing efforts. Use the data from tools to adapt strategies, highlight potential weaknesses and stay agile. The point of all this isn’t sabotage. A marketer shouldn’t be trying to screw over their competitors but simply see what they can learn. Knowledge is power and the right insights discovered at the right time could help a company stick out in an effective way on its own merits.

Conclusion: Keep searching for new insights

Good marketers are always looking for the next big thing to help make their campaigns more impactful and ultimately more successful than their rivals’ attempts. While there are many, countless ways to find that perfect insight that will hopefully put a company on top, one of the easiest and simplest involves keeping tabs on what other marketers are putting their budgets behind.

Even with tools that help a marketer dig deeper into why competitors are doing what they’re doing, the search shouldn’t end there. The market, and indeed the entire internet, is always changing, and trends will always be popping up to shake up everything in unforeseen ways. For this reason, it’s just good practice to never get comfortable and know that this kind of rival-focused research is an ongoing process.

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