hands on a keyboard 3 ways to outsmart your competitors

3 Ways to Outsmart Your Competitors

If there’s one thing that most business owners ask themselves, it’s this: “How can I stand out from the competition?”

Simply offering a great product or service won’t cut it.

The marketplace is too competitive and expecting customers to return time after time won’t work if you’re not willing to put the additional effort into marketing your products or services.

Creating a unique selling proposition, as explained below, as well as doing the research that is required to stay ahead of your competition, can all help.

Here are 3 ways to outsmart your competitors.

  1. Create a Plan

Learning how to outsmart your competitors starts with a plan. I’m sure you’ve read a lot about content marketing strategies, the best SEO tips to use, how to ace social media and more. All of that can seem overwhelming, which means that by the time you’ve finished reading all of the guides, you still might not know where to start. And like countless others, you may just give up.

a laptop and a notebook 3 ways to outsmart your competitors

To get started, create a goal first, such as the need to establish yourself as an authority in your niche, and then formulate a strategy.

That strategy could mean getting prospective customers to look at your products or services before they look at your competitors’ offerings. You will then need to decide which tactic to use in order to fulfill that strategy. There are many ways to do that. However, researching your competition is a tactic that is often ignored.

It’s pretty sneaky, but it works, in most cases.

When creating a plan, it’s important, also, to have a purpose. For many business owners, their purpose should not only be to sell their products and services but to provide value as well. If you establish that early on, the blog content you create, the social media posts you craft, or the customer service strategies you engage in should be easy to implement. You should be asking yourself, why am I offering this and what benefit will it provide to my customers?

  1. Look at What Your Competitors are Doing and Then Do it Better

Many small businesses don’t often take the time to research their competitors and the marketing approach they use, but it’s often a tactic well worth pursuing.

In fact, it’s something that helped the do-it-yourself design platform Canva become the success it is today.

In an article published on Buffer, Canva’s growth marketer, Andrianes Pinantoan, described how the company grew the traffic on its blog, Design School, by 226.47% in 60 days.

woman looking at computer 3 ways to outsmart your competitors

The first thing that Pinantoan did after he was hired by Canva was to look at the company’s competitors. He used Buzzsumo for his initial research.

The website allows you to look at a competitor’s content and how well it does on various social media channels. The first few searches are free, but you must purchase a subscription to do unlimited searches.

Pinantoan then researched specific keywords related to the graphic design industry. There are many ways to do that, including using tools like Google’s free Keyword Planner, KW Finder, SEMRush, Moz, and more.

Since there are a lot of tools out there, some free, others available on a subscription basis, it’s a good idea to test each of them or at least some of them. Sign up for a free trial, then at the end of it, make up your mind based upon your experience and how valuable the service will be for your business.

Part of Pinantoan’s research also led him to Pinterest, especially since he wanted to know what kinds of graphic design-related topics were being pinned on the platform. The topics with the most pins proved to be fodder for additional blog posts that Canva could do better than its competitors.

This tactic works best for businesses that are naturally suited to Pinterest, including those in the retail space, as well as travel and food niches. However, Pinterest can be a good marketing tool for service-related businesses too, especially if you are creative.

Infographics are important for creators who want to be seen on Pinterest, says Bronwyn Kienapple of Venngage, the company that gives users the ability to create simple infographics in minutes. Kienapple says infographics are an excellent way for businesses to connect with potential customers on Pinterest given their easy-to-understand visual representation of data.

For businesses looking to create infographics themselves, Venngage provides this useful resource.

To find out where Canva’s competitors were getting all of their traffic from, Pinantoan turned to SEMRush, which led him to the articles that got the most SEO. To see what websites were sharing content from Canva’s competitors, he chose Ahrefs to give him the data.

Marketing guru Neil Patel knows a thing or two about researching one’s competitors. In fact, he believes it can be the answer to cracking the SEO code if you will.

The trick is to implement what Patel calls “competitive intelligence.”  That means looking at a competitor’s website to see what works for them and then doing the same but better by using a tool like Alexa, which provides audience demographics like gender, education levels and more.

  1. Be a Step Ahead of Everyone

To ensure that you have a head start on the competition, it’s essential that you continue to research. Pinantoan suggests using a tool like Quora to help.

Using Quora as a marketing tool is pretty neat. Just log on to the site every day and research the questions that are being asked in your industry. The ones with the most upvotes will give you an idea of what’s popular among that audience.

social media icons 3 ways to outsmart your competitors

It’s wise to also offer up your expertise on Quora by creating an account and to establish yourself and your business as an authority.

Another way to stay ahead of your competition is to create a unique selling proposition. Canva’s one, “We want to make design accessible,” promotes the idea that one doesn’t have to be a graphic designer to use the tool.

Surpassing your competitors, especially those larger than you, is not easy. but judging by Canva’s experience, it’s clear that it can be done.

Research is key, and that takes time. There are tons of resources on the Internet. Use them to study what others in your space are doing. That will help you understand what your own audience wants, not what you think they want.

Have you used any of the above tactics to stay ahead of your competitors? Let me know in the comments or on the Connolly Communications Facebook page. And feel free to sign up for my regular e-newsletter.

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