Search form

How to Do a Competitive Analysis for Your Business

Photo Credit: olivia.dorris via Compfight cc

If you’re a business owner, doing a competitive analysis is an important part of developing a strategic marketing plan. It will help you assess where your business sits within the general marketplace, among broader industry trends, and against your biggest competitors. It can also provide valuable insights that can put you on the right path to growth and profitability. Here’s how to get started.

Explore What Makes You Different

The first step is to establish the unique qualities that set your business apart. Start by making a short list of your top competitors, then answer the following questions for each:

  • What do they do best?

  • Who is their target audience?

  • What is their value proposition?

  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?

  • What marketing tactics are they using?

  • What features or services do they offer that you don’t?

  • Why would someone potentially choose them over you?

The answers to these questions will help you identify any important similarities and differences, so you can better carve out your own competitive advantage. Just remember that a competitive analysis is an ongoing project. Put all this information into a spreadsheet and be sure to update it regularly. You may be surprised at just how valuable this information is – as well as how well it keeps you on your toes.

Study Their Website

You can learn a lot by studying your competitors’ websites. Pay close attention to how they describe their products and services, communicate pricing, use tools like blogs of newsletter to engage customers, and weave in social media or customer testimonials to create a more robust overall experience. As the saying goes, “imitation is the greatest form of flattery.”  If you see your competitors doing something different or better than you that you find effective, do not hesitate to emulate them and beat them at their own game.

You can also use SEO tools to help you evaluate your competitors’ websites from the inside out: incoming links, SEO optimization, keyword analysis, and more. Knowing this can help you understand what they’re focusing on in the background and how well it’s working for them, so you can adapt your tactics accordingly.

Become a Follower

One of the easiest ways to see what your competition is up to is to follow them on all their social media channels and to subscribe to their blogs or newsletters. It’s a great way to keep a “low profile” eye on them so you can stay in-the-know about the things they are doing, promoting, writing about, and so on. By paying close attention to how your competitors use social media to engage and build loyalty with their customers, you’ll have the upper hand in building a stronger online presence and overall marketing strategy.

Keyword Alerts

It never hurts to use keyword alerts to monitor your competitors in real-time. Use tools like Google Alerts, Mention, or Social Oomph to get alerts delivered to your inbox whenever they pop up in the news. Also, be sure to set up alerts for your own business. It’s a great way to stay on top of your own online presence and manage any feedback – both positive and negative – that gets said about your business. Setting this up is quick and easy – and well worth it in the long run.

Now that you’re well on your way to developing your competitive analysis, remember that it isn’t a one-and-done deal. It will evolve as your business – as well as your competitors’ businesses – continues to thrive and grow. Knowing who your competitors are and what they’re doing well gives you actionable insight that you can immediately use to make your business stronger.


Other Resources on this Topic

The Practical Guide to Small Business Marketing
14 Ways to do Competitive Marketing Analysis



Susan is the Content Marketing Manager for YP, The Real Yellow Pages® for local business. She graduated from Washington State University with a Master of Arts in Communications and has dedicated her career to learning the ever-changing field of digital marketing with an emphasis in content, SEM, and social media. You can connect with Susan on Linkedin.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

FREE monthly newsletter filled with tactics to help you attract and keep customers.

…that’s not a valid email. Try again.