How to Research Competitors For Your Marketing Strategy

No matter what kind of business we’re in, we all want to market ourselves well. But what makes up a good marketing strategy? The landscape of advertising and promoting seems to shift more frequently than ever before — but there are a few foundational principles that stand the test of time, no matter how many new trends come along. Chief among these principles: you must know who you’re selling to, and who else is trying to earn their business. 

Competitor research plays a pivotal role in every successful marketing strategy. In order to “win” a sale, you must show your potential customers the unique advantage of buying from you instead of a similar brand. But how do you research your competitors well? And once you gather that data, how can you use it to help your ideal customers connect with your business? 

Market Research: Where to Begin?

In any industry, there are countless brands out there that could potentially be considered a “competitor.” How do you narrow that list down to find the ones that matter most? Instead of combing through endless businesses to determine which ones fit, head to your audience. They’ll tell you what you need to know. 

Your audience is one of the most important tools in your marketing belt. If you listen to their feedback and observe their consumer behaviors, you’ll learn so many things, including: 

  • Their goals and desires
  • Their pain points
  • Unmet needs in the market
  • Products or services they’ve used and loved

In order to get the right data, you need to have a clearly defined target audience. If you’re listening to the right potential customers, you’ll find some key data that will help you set KPIs and identify competitors, even those that might surprise you. 

Analyzing Your Competitors

Performing a competitive analysis in marketing can give you a clear picture of your industry’s marketing landscape, which in turn informs your marketing strategy. It provides valuable insight into current trends, shows gaps in your existing strategy, and highlights how your results stack up against others in your industry. 

There’s no one way to analyze competitors — you may focus on different factors depending on your goals for a specific campaign. However, experts believe you should include these seven specifics in any competitive analysis example:

  • Features
  • Pricing
  • Target Audience
  • Marketing
  • Differentiators
  • Strengths 
  • Weaknesses

Build on this list to include specific data points you’d like to know! Once you’ve established parameters, it’s time to build a list of competitors and gather data to analyze. Your list of competitors might not be as industry-specific as you imagine! 

Finding Unique Angles

When doing competitor research, it’s natural to compile a list of other businesses in your industry. However, these may not be your only — or most compelling — competition. For example, maybe you run marketing for a luxury cruise line. One of your target audiences may be recent retirees who want to celebrate their new chapter by seeing new sights and indulging in a luxury vacation. Some of your competitors may well be other cruise lines. However, challenge yourself to think from unique angles. 

What else might recent retirees spend their money on, if not your cruise? A quick list could include a new luxury vehicle, an all-inclusive resort, or home upgrades (like a pool or backyard renovation) that will help them enjoy a relaxed retired life. Alternatively, they may plan to invest or save rather than splurge on a trip. When you consider these competitors, you have an entirely different picture for your strategy.

When your clients book a cruise, they aren’t ultimately thinking, “I want to take a cruise.” They’re thinking, “I deserve to relax,” or, “I want to explore the world,” or, “I want to take a vacation that allows me not to think about anything — it’s all included and done for me.” Alternatively, why would someone choose not to book a cruise? It’s not because they don’t want to take a cruise. Instead, their underlying thoughts are, “It’s too expensive,” or, “It’s too crowded.” As you build a marketing strategy, you can address these fears, pain points, and desires, making your cruise the most compelling option among industry competitors and out-of-the-box competitors alike. 

Why Market Research Matters

Market research is essential, but you must look into your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and begin to identify your own. By analyzing competitors, marketers gain insights into the strengths and weaknesses relative to their own offerings. This information will help you identify areas where you can differentiate your brand and capitalize on your competitive advantage. When you are honest about the benefits of your brand, as well as the pain points or goals it currently fails to address, you can build a better strategy moving forward. 

Market research helps direct your strategy development by providing benchmarks and best practices.  It also helps you understand your ideal audience’s inclinations by gaining insights into customer preferences and behaviors. As you research competitors and conduct detailed analyses, your work will ultimately help you tailor both your offerings and your messaging to better meet customer needs — which is the litmus test of marketing your brand effectively.  

Market Research Powered By Connection

At Redstory, we believe that the end goal of every marketing campaign should be connection – connecting brands to people and people to positive change. As an experiential marketing agency, we are uniquely focused on designing human-to-human experiences that create a lasting impact. We tailor our support, taking care to understand our client’s needs before thoughtfully building a custom experience to match. If you want a marketing partner who will thoroughly research your market to understand how to best reach your audience, reach out to Redstory today.