Whenever someone rolls out a quote from Lao Tzu, you know that they're trying to sound really smart. Well, my dear readers, I must confess that I am not above such tactics. “There is no greater danger than underestimating your opponent.”
I am pretty sure Lao Tzu wasn't talking about online local marketing when he wrote that, but you must admit that it fits. Business is nothing if it's not a competition. Potential customers are going to spend money. The question is will that be with you or with one of your local competitors?
If you want to play to win, you need to keep an eye on what your competitors are up to, especially when it comes to digital marketing.
Online Local Marketing Competitor Analysis: The Basics
There are several steps you need to take when it's time to start checking out the competition. But before you dig in, it's important to realize that your specific approach will depend on whether you are trying to elbow your way into a new market or you've been there for a while and you're just trying to “up your game.”
First Things First: Pick the Right Fight
Everyone who does what you do isn't your competitor. When it comes to identifying the competition, try to be realistic. Trying to outdo giants like Walmart (or Amazon) sounds cool but isn't going to get you very far. Chances are, you don't have a few million dollars stashed away that you can drop on marketing. So while it sounds good, it's not the smart play.
It's better to focus your energies on businesses similar to you in scale and size. A simple way to do it is to go to the Google machine and search for local keywords like “coffee house Las Vegas.” Check out the top search results and divide your competitors based on how much overlap they have with your products and services. Then try to come up with better marketing strategies than what they have deployed.
Applying SWOT Analysis to Your Online Local Marketing
SWOT analysis is an industry staple. It’s a tried and tested method of understanding a business’s relative position in the industry. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. Run a SWOT analysis of your own business and marketing strategy, then do the same for your competitors. Identify the strengths of their marketing strategy and approach.
What marketing opportunities do your competitors take advantage of (local events, word-of-mouth, SEO)? How can you leverage those opportunities as well (or take advantage of opportunities they are missing)? Understanding what threats can dampen their marketing (lack of flare, not embedding local spirit into their marketing, etc.) helps you devise a relatively safer strategy.
Pay attention to what they're doing well and where they may be leaving cheddar on the table. Chances are you can you account for those and create a better marketing plan.
Build On Your Competitor's Strengths
Trying to be a trailblazer in how you approach your online local marketing game can be a two-edged sword. On one hand, you can come across as the new hotness and snatch a boatload of customers potential customers away from your competitors. But if your marketing ideas are too cutting edge, your target audience may not even realize that you're talking to them.
A more strategic approach is to mine your competitor’s data and learn from what they're doing with online local marketing. Check out their SEO, landing pages, content marketing, social media outlets, and even whether they are using paid ads or not. Once you’ve identified the strengths of your strongest competitors, you can build upon them and offer your overlapping target market something better.
in the SEO world, it’s called the skyscraper technique. You identify the top competitor websites that are ranking higher for your desired keywords, analyze their content, write something better, and promote the bejeesus out of it on relevant platforms to get backlinks and recognition. This strategy works for website content, social media marketing, and the full scope of online local marketing.
Remember, This Analysis Thing is a Two Way Street
The biggest takeaway here is that online local marketing doesn't occur in a vacuum. Your competitors can see you just as well as you can see them. If you create something that gives you better results than your competitors, don't break your arm patting yourself on the back. What you’ve done to them, other competitors might do to you.
It’s a struggle getting to the top. But once you get there, you have to fight to stay there. You’ve to keep a close eye on your competitors, keep learning from them, and improving your digital marketing strategy and approach to stay ahead of the curve.
Sound like work? A little. If you want a little help getting started, give us a call. We'll help you put together an effective analysis of your online local marketing. Then you can start slinging elbows and get your fair share of your local marketing.