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Competition is both revered and sometimes seen as a dirty word. We know that friendly competition can help people and businesses excel. Remember that moment when Andre De Grasse was nipping at Usain Bolt’s heels in the 200m race at the 2016 Olympics. They both shared a knowing smile as Bolt felt the presence of De Grasse eyeing the gold.

But we also see competition take over common sense, and drive malicious behaviour. Take Facebook’s current predicament surrounding their unscrupulous attempts to defame social media rival TikTok.1

No wonder many small businesses and micro-entrepreneurs resist seeking out their competition. But, before you close this post, consider that your competition is also your community. Competition at its core is simply someone else who loves what you love and works to excel at it just like you. Your competition could become your strongest ally. Just as your online presence is at its essence about relationship building, so is competition analysis. Getting to know your partners-in-service will ultimately help you better understand your target market and your own business as well. 

Think of competition as simply the business your clients/students would turn to for your services if they didn’t have you. Who would that be? 

When looking at your competition there are 3 key details to learn from their online presence and behaviour:

  1. Where and how can they be found online?
  2. How are you different & how are you the same?
  3. What are they doing well and what are they doing not so well?

Let’s dive into these questions and how to answer them.

Where and how can your competition be found online?

Knowing your competition’s online properties is like knowing their location and proximity to your brick-and-mortar business. Do a trusty google search, and answer the following questions:

  • Do they have a website? 
  • Are they on social media? If so, which platforms?
  • Do they host a podcast, or a vlog?
  • What real estate are they holding online?

Some service providers also work for a third-party business like a spa or fitness centre. Discover all the places they can be found online.

The next piece to note is how can someone find your competition. How do people come across their online presence? Are they listed on a Google search, what did you search to find them? Do they share their social media profiles on their webpage or did you have to search for them specifically on each platform?

If their services are listed on a third party website, does it link back to their business website or to their social media? And how would someone discover this third party listing?

Identifying how your competition is discovered online will reveal what your audience is looking for. What do they search for when they discover this business? Also, who are they following on social media that lead them to this brand? Do you follow those businesses or individuals too?

What are they doing well and what are they not doing so well?

Doing competition research is like listening to other guitar players when you are learning to play guitar. You are discovering possibilities. That’s why it is important to learn about what your competition is doing really well online. How is their social media performing? What about their website is engaging and functional? Do they run ads? If so, what is the engagement with those ads?

Let your competition inspire you.

Just as someone else’s success can spur on your own ambition, learning someone else’s mistakes can help you avoid making the same ones. Do they have a blog, is it kept up, what topics are they writing about and are people meaningfully engaged with those topics? If not, why do you think that is? Since you are all working in a similar field, learn from others what people are looking for. Apply that to your own marketing strategy.

How are you similar and how are you different?

Do you remember back in your early school days, when you saw someone in class doing something cool, something you like to do too, and you got all excited. Maybe you thought, “we could be friends” or “it would be fun to play with them.” Bring that same curiosity to your competition analysis. 

When exploring another service provider or business online, look to see what you have in common. Do you offer the same services? Do you have the same philosophy to your work? It could be as simple as ya shared colour palette for your content or that you both work in the same neighbourhood. Seek out all the ways you and your partner-in-service are the same. You could even reach out and make a connection with them in person, it’s encouraging to meet like-minded people. 

Just as you can see the ways you are the same, get curious about the ways that make you both unique. What are they offering that you don’t offer and vice versa. Are they targeting a slightly different clientele or studentship than you? How are they doing this? What subjects do they discuss on their social media that you haven’t approached before? Seeing the ways you are different from your competition shows you how you are unique and how you complement each other’s work. 

Conclusion

Through these processes of discovery, learn about other service providers, about yourself and your business, your target market and the field you work in? Be inspired to try something new online. Feel more confident about what makes your offerings valuable. 

With this information you now have a better understanding of your community. This research places your services within this community to better support your clients, and students, and in turn strengthen the foundation of the work in your field. 

Remember your competition is made of people like you who love what they do and want to do it well. Keep returning to this research and updating it every few months. It is invaluable for helping guide your online marketing efforts. 

If you want more guidance or are looking for support in managing your digital marketing, book a Discovery Call now. We can help you bring your services to those who need them most.


  1. Lorenz, T., & Harwell, D. (2022, March 30). Facebook paid GOP firm to malign TikTok. The Washington Post. Retrieved April 10, 2022, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/03/30/facebook-tiktok-targeted-victory/

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