The common concern that we hear all the time from small business owners is that there’s just “too much competition” and they’re afraid they’re investing for nothing.
With the price of digital marketing consultation, setting up a website and working on SEO, you’ll be hard-pressed not to doubt yourself. There’s some ways to handle businesses who compete with you directly, especially online. It’s just a matter of working out a great strategy.
What I Think About Competition
I’ve always been competitive my entire life and I have to admit, I’m a sore loser. I don’t like people getting the better of me and, as a business owner, you should feel the same way as well. You’re pouring time, money and considerable effort and losing out is not an option.
I will admit, however, that there are times that I’ve felt intimidated when it comes to my work as a content writer. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here; we’ve all been beginners at some point and saw these big name competitors and thought “what the heck have I gotten myself into?”. There’s no easy industry in the world. Even in today’s age, you have entire businesses gunning for the top.
I decided to go through it anyway, rather than go back to a 9 to 5 desk job I hated. It’s working and coming up Milhouse for myself.
TL;DR Even if you’re unsure, competition should not bother you at all. Better push now than regret later.
How To Arm Yourself Against Online Marketing Competitors
Carve Out Your Niche
Shooting for everyone is not a smart way of doing things. You’re spreading yourself too thin. What you can do is create an “ideal client” demographic in your head that you can adjust your marketing strategy to. Flesh the idea out from age, geography, personality quirks, political ideologies and any point that makes them perfect for your product.
Once you do this, tune out your strategy according to what they would need and how they will access your product. Create social media pages, establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche and make sure that you continue to do your research.
Research on Your Competition
I have discussed before that you should see to it that you understand how your competitors operate. Whilst I don’t suggest for you to hack their website, find their sales funnel and siphon off their data, I suggest reading up on what they provide. You should know up to how much you limit your research.
Understand your direct competitors – the businesses that provide the same product type that you do and who provides alternatives to what you sell. To an extent, read up on your indirect competitors – the ones that take up the same industry as you do and are likely to satisfy your clients’ need.
As an example, if you’re a coffee roaster business, your direct competitors are other coffee roasters within your range of operations, whilst your indirect competitors are businesses that sell beverage alternatives for coffee like tea producers, chocolate drink sellers and the like.
You should know what to look for in your competitors’ content. List down competitors both direct and indirect and find the following:
- The topics they discuss
- The keywords they regularly use
- Their products’ benefits and how they compare to yours
- What kind of clients they seem to be aiming for
Much of this seems like guesswork, especially when looking for keywords they’re trying to rank for. There’s no need for you to deeply understand their information, but rather understand what and where they are trying to get with their copy.
Once you’re done with your research, adapt areas of their methodology that works. Find areas where you think you can do better than them. Push for a better SEO-ready article than their current position or expand on positions that are great. You can only one-up your competitors’ methods if you know where they stand.
Tap Into Potential Markets Your Competitors Cannot
Much like how tailoring your niche requires you to know what you want, tapping into an audience that your direct or indirect competitors are not trying to get is a market that you would want. Steve Cody of INC has listed 6 ways to tap into a niche market so it helps a lot. What speaks to me the most is his last note.
What he did for his company is he did analysis on the two extreme ends of his industry, big companies and small companies and listed both sides’ target market. The white space that did not overlap are clients that they can take for themselves.
Going by the coffee example from a while ago, if big coffee companies are targeting the breakfast table of families and on-the-go people, small specialist shops try to get as many of the enthusiasts as possible.
The in-between of this are casual coffee drinkers who are looking into becoming beginner enthusiasts and businesses that would need to provide a good blend to their employee pantry. You can push yourself to get people to enjoy your product as a mid-range starter brew and then work towards more premium blends that you sell. You can then tailor your content to help people get into drinking good, brewed coffee.
Competition is a good thing for your business, and being proactive in trying to find ways to position yourself better than your competition is the heart of winning. It’s all in the execution and adapting your SEO and marketing strategies according to your needs.