It’s so true that comparison is the thief of joy, but in a logical, business sense – it pays to know what your competitors are up to.
I probably don’t conduct competitor analysis as routinely as I should, but it is something that I try to do every so often and I did it regularly in my corporate job previously. These are my top tips for conducting competitor analysis on your business.
Firstly, be in the right mindset. If you’re already having a wobble or feeling unsure about your offering – just don’t do it. If you’re sensitive (like me) then I can almost guarantee that you’ll compare yourself harshly and feed into that feeling. I always make sure that I’m feeling good about myself and my business before I start looking at my competitors. You want to be looking at your competitors super objectively, with no emotion attached either way.
Secondly, I never EVER taken action immediately after. For good or for bad, I make a note of what I’ve seen and the changes I think I’ll make as a result – and then I sit on the idea for a week at least. Knee jerk reactions are never a good idea in business, and what works brilliantly for one business may not work for yours – so really think about any changes you make before implementing something just ‘cause your competitor does it. NB, I’m talking about things such as displaying or changing prices, not ripping off their ideas altogether here – that’s never ever a good idea.
Before you even start, think about what you’re looking for. Ask yourself why you’re doing this. For example, I was recently unsure whether or not to display my prices again – so I had a look to see if my competitors did. I had a clear end goal, rather than just having a nosy. As with anything in business, be strategic so that you can be wise with your time. It can be a lengthy process to analyse your competitors, so I recommend deciding your goal for this session – and stick to looking at that only.
Lastly, remember that you’re only seeing what they want you to see. This goes full circle to my first point, and sometimes we can go in feeling totally confident and something we see turns that upside down. So if you come across an award win, you read how they’re super busy or anything else that ignites the green eyed monster – keep in mind that everyone is selective about what they put online. Even if they put ‘the bad’ – they’re putting the bad they want you to see.
I’m aware I haven’t actually told you how to do a competitor analysis here, which might’ve been what you’re looking for. Of course, it depends on what you’re hoping to gain from your research but the actions I take in short are…
Writing down my reason for analysing
List my closest competitors for that reason
One at a time, look through their website/social media to find the information I’m looking for (no getting side tracked, I can analyse them for another reason another day)
Write a note of my findings, with no emotive language unless necessary
Come up with an intended plan of action for my own business
Sit on it for a week or more (depending on what the decision is)
Tweak it as according as I think about it
Implementation into my business
Personally, I find by doing it one ‘issue’ at a time, it keeps me focused and away from the rabbit hole which inevitably ends in me feeling crap about my own business. For example, if I wanted to check my prices to attract a local audience, I’d list my competitors who are local to me – as competitors with a different audience may well charge differently. So it’s a waste of time and potentially deflating to look at a city-based business who only deals with huge corporations – I’m not in a city and I don’t want to attract or charge huge businesses.