Every company has competitors. In fact, a competitive marketplace is a critical component of our free enterprise system, driving our economy, innovation and the continuous cycle of ever improving quality of products and services.
But do you really know how your company compares to your competitors?
Traditional competitive analyses are applied from either a business plan standpoint or as a component of the annual marketing plan, and they tend to focus primarily on areas such as; Researching your competitors’ corporation, determining your competitors’ goals and objectives, identifying your competitors’ strategies (product, pricing, positioning and place), and conducting a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).
While there are countless variations of the traditional competitive analysis, it typically lacks a clear assessment from a digital inbound marketing perspective. Companies tend to know their competitors based upon who they compete with on the street, in their local marketplace, or based upon the sales opportunities of what they have won or lost.
Little awareness or recognition is given to their online competitors.
Why is this so important? Consider this:
97% of consumers now use online media when researching products and services in their local market1
84% of buyers engage in online information consumption and education2
By a factor of 3 to 1, B2B buyers say that gathering information online on their own is superior to interacting with a sales representative.3
70% – 90% of the buyers journey is complete before they contact a sales representative 4
So let’s review the stages of a person’s buyer’s journey to fully understand where we can affect their buying decision.
Awareness: Your potential client becomes aware that they have a challenge that needs to be solved. This is where you want to attract them with relevant content for their challenge through blog articles, web pages, and social media.
Consideration: At this stage your potential client is comparing different companies and their ability to solve his or her challenge. You need to have valuable content offers with premium content that proves your expertise in solving their problems.
Decision: At this point you need to close them by convincing them that you are exactly what they need. You can help do this through trial offers, consultations, first-time discounts, etc.
It’s important to understand that you have to compete for the mindshare of your ideal buyer while they are in their awareness and consideration stages of their evaluation journey.
But, companies no longer control the selling process. Buyers now control the selling process.
So, the most successful competitors you will face are online providing your ideal buyer with the information they seek and consume throughout their decision-making process. Therefore, your company website must become the hub of your marketing efforts and the key to creating more opportunities for your sales team.
That means that you need to understand how well your competitors are doing with their online efforts to attract and convert your ideal buyer. It also means you need to know how you compare against them.