All too often, competition in business is perceived as bad, and competitors are looked upon as something to avoid. The reality is, competition is both inevitable and beneficial. In fact, it is important for companies to have competitors for many reasons, related to satisfying your audience, improving your services, and distinguishing your brand.
Get to Know Your Industry
First thing’s first: Get to know your business industry. If you don’t know your industry, then you can’t find your competitors! In order to get familiar with your industry, immerse yourself in the various channels of engagement: read blogs, follow social media groups, participate in online forums, subscribe to a magazine, even join clubs and associations. Being active in these groups will also help you to identify the key players and influencers of your field, and what kinds of businesses are dominating the market.
Perform a local search for your business’s service offering in Google, such as “physical therapy Medford, MA”. Who shows up along with you in website and map results? These are your competitors. If any of them are ranking higher than you, you may want to improve your website SEO.
Check Directory Listings
There are several online lists and directories that your business may show up in, because you either submitted your business or it automatically aggregated you. Check out these directories to see who else provides similar or competitive services in your areas. If you are ranking lower than these competitors, some list optimization measures can help improve your visibility.
Talk to Your Customers
To find out who your competitors are, ask your customers where they came from or if they’ve used other businesses in the past. You may also ask them why they switched to your business. This is a common question in many industries. Market research is an important part of growing your business and satisfying your audience.
Market research enables you to learn about what it is that makes your business appealing, which you can then harness to stand out from your competition. Once you know why people switched to use your business, you’ll learn valuable information about your target market and what not to do to avoid losing customers.
Another way to find your competitors is to attend conferences and networking events related to your industry. Depending on the size, presenters, exhibitors, and attendees there, you can find out who your local and even national competitors are. Don’t be afraid to talk to competitors at these events! Positive relationships help the business ecosystem to thrive.
Use Social Media
Social media is a great venue for increasing engagement with your audience so find out who your competitors are on social media. Who are your customers interacting with on social media? What information, relevant to your business, are they posting or sharing? Is there anything trending in your industry? You may be able to track some of this engagement back to a competitor’s content or campaign. In addition, spending some time on your competitor’s social media platforms and websites can help you to find methods to adopt or even avoid.
Be Active in Facebook Groups
If you’re part of Facebook Groups, you can utilize the conversations that take place there to find your competitors. For groups that are relevant to your business or industry, pay attention to businesses that are getting recommended or reviewed. You can also utilize Facebook Groups that you participate in for personal use. They may not be relevant to your business, but if they are local, they can help you to find your competitors. When people are looking for services, they will reach out to people they are close to or who are similar to them. Keep an eye out for questions about services related to your business—not necessarily so you can jump in and offer yours—but so you can see what other people come up with first. This is a way to find out who your competitors are and who is top of mind in your area.
Monitor Your Reputation
Given the power of online reviews, it is very important for you to be aware of what customers are saying about your business. However, with the countless websites and applications out there that enable customers to search, review, and list businesses, reputation monitoring can be hard to keep up with. Google alerts and other reputation monitoring tools can help you not only with handling your relationship with your audience, but also in finding new competition and new trends in your industry.
Use Perch by ThriveHive
One such reputation monitoring tool is Perch by ThriveHive. This free app allows you to identify and keep tabs on your competitors. In addition to monitoring your own social media performance, stay up to date on what the competition is doing so you can refine your positioning. Download it free for iOS and Android. Your competition is not to be avoided! Find out who your competitors are, and then keep an eye on them so you can better serve your clients, refine your business, and better serve your industry in general.
SOURCE: Kristen McCormick, Content Marketing Manager for ThriveHive