Why knowing your competition is critical to your marketing


If you want to stand out in a particular way – in your career, in a nightclub, in a crowd – you need to be able to do something different and stand for something. The only way to do this is to take a look around and understand the competition so that we can do things a little bit different from them, or in “marketing” terms, position ourselves a little differently.

What does positioning mean to small businesses? How are you positioning your business and your brand in the minds of your customers and clients where there is the least amount of competition?

Here are four key items to consider when taking a look at the competition.

Their offering

We want to understand their service or product offering so that we can do something differently. Let’s use an example. Picture three photographers. Two of them photograph a bit of everything – family portraits, school photography, weddings and sports photography. But the third one only does pre-school photography.

That’s a pretty specific service offering. They need to be able to work with kids, make kids smile, and have the tolerance and patience to work with preschool kids every day. If I am a pre-school manager on the hunt for a photographer, chances are I’m going to choose the specialist.

As most of our clients would say at this point, “isn’t our business losing out on doing all the other bits of photography?”. Potentially, but how do you intend to compete with 50 other generalist photographers?

Their target audience

If we use the photography business example. The two generalists are “focusing” on everyone people. Their communication with up-coming married couples is the same to sporting clubs – general and vague – because they want to communicate with everyone.

However, if you’re the photographer that is focused on the target audience of pre-schools, you would be using specific language and imagery. You could use language that communicates your expertise in working with kids backed up with images of your photographers in action within a pre-school.

If we didn’t take the time to know who the competition is communicating to, we wouldn’t know where that little gap in the market would be that we could make our own.

Their location

If your competition isn’t taking the time to spell out where they provide their products or services, then it’s time for you to. If you focus Australia-wide, say it. If you focus on a suburb, say it. People can relate to locations; it makes your offering feel real and trustworthy.

“Enterprise” became the leading rental car brand in the USA not by overtaking Hertz at airport terminals, but by setting up car rental facilities in suburban locations and focusing on “insurance replacement” market. They are by the far the market leader within the US market by differentiating on “offering” and “location”.

Their authority

Is your competition acting like an expert in your field? If not, then that’s a position for you to take.

How? Be really clear and consistent in your communication and what you’re the authority in. If you sell microphones to use in podcasts, then say that’s your focus and you’re the absolute expert in that.

Seek out publications to contribute your knowledge and expertise, put it on your website and hammer it home with your existing network. Don’t be shy to say you’re an expert.

If you become a thought leader in your field, that will assist you to stand out and put your business in good stead.