You should look to your competitors to observe how they are distinguishing themselves from you and the rest of the field. Use this information to hone in on your marketing message and strategy. If you sound, look, and communicate in the same way everyone else does, you’ll have trouble standing out from your competitors. One of my favorite comedies is “Coming to America” starring Eddie Murphy. In that movie, Eddie Murphy’s character, Prince Akeem, worked in McDowell’s which was a complete knock-off from McDonalds. McDowell’s offered the Big Mic vs. the Big Mac. McDowell’s had Golden Arcs vs. Golden Arches. Yeah…you don’t want to be McDowell’s. Stand out of the crowd.
So for example, review your competitor’s website for look and feel? Is it more engaging than yours? Are they asking for email sign-ups? Are they offering a “freebie” for that email address, if so what is it? You can learn lots by looking at the competition, and you’ll be able to have a clearer picture of what you can offer and communicate to your audience that is compelling and attractive.
- Select 3 – 5 competitors (both locally (if applicable) and online; large and small competitors, as well), and answer the following questions, simply jot down your first unbiased impressions.
- Is their website engaging? What can you improve upon? What don’t you like?
- What are their key offerings? How are they similar or different from my offerings?
- Do they include pricing on their website?
- Do they have an email newsletter sign up? Do they make an offer to get that email? If so, what is it?
- What segment of your market are they looking to attract? This competitor may not be your competitor at all if they have a completely different niche!
- Do they have a blog? If so is it up-to-date? What’s its content?
- Are your competitors on Facebook, Twitter, G+, others? Do they post often? When was their last post?
Analyze this information and think of ways you can stand apart. You can look to stand apart by your messages, your offerings, your customer service, your quality. By having a clear idea for the market you intend to target for your business, their profiles and behaviors, and now how they are currently being served, you should be dreaming up amazing ways to stand apart from the competition and really serve that audience your business was meant to serve.
This all may sound like Entrepreneurship 101, but in it a way it really is. Who is your target audience? How do you reach to them? What need or want are they looking to satisfy? What goods and services satisfies that need or want? And how does your business go about providing an amazing solution to that need? When in doubt of your marketing efforts, always go back to these fundamentals, and it will put you back on track. If any of your marketing efforts do not satisfy these fundamental questions, then stop doing it. It’s noise. You are looking for solutions to a problem, and you want to provide those solutions at the right time and place. Don’t follow the herd. Always follow what is right for your business, and your customer!