Understanding the competition is a key component of your online strategy, enabling you to position a business correctly in the marketplace. In this lesson, we’ll explore:
- how to identify what makes a business stand out in a busy marketplace
- why Unique Selling Points (USPs) are important and how to construct them
- online tools available to help you research the competition.
Take ten minutes out of your day and use a search engine to research the following terms:
1. A business name – this will show you the competition for keywords and branding.
2. A product or service – this will show you who the competition is for that product or service.
3. Include your location – this highlights competitors who are local to you, that offer the same services.
These searchable terms are ‘keywords’ that are associated with a brand or product. These keywords are what people will use to find a business or product online, so it’s important to know who or what else appears when customers search the web.
Healthy competition keeps us on our toes and increases our drive for success. In this lesson, we’ll explore how to identify what makes a business stand out online, why you should be checking out your competitors, and what tools can help you get ahead of the game.
Let’s start with this question: what makes you stand out?
Imagine you own a basketball gear shop. What would make your brand distinct compared to other sports shops selling basketball equipment?
Maybe your shop’s exterior is painted in bright red, or you have an eye-catching window display, or perhaps you’ve even hired someone to shoot some hoops outside to grab people’s attention as they walk by.
As a physical store you need to stand out. The same is true in digital. When we identify what makes us different from the competition online, we call that our Unique Selling Point, or USP.
A Unique Selling Point is a clear statement that describes the benefits you offer, how you might solve your customer’s needs, and what distinguishes you from the competition.
4 key questions to ask yourself when defining your USP are:
who is my target audience?
who are my competitors?
what problems does my target audience have?, and
how can I solve them?
Once you ask these questions, you can piece together a concise statement that incorporates the answers. Here are a few pointers to remember.
Speak in a human voice. Be as natural and relatable as you can and remember, you are trying to attract people, not robots.
Shout about it. Your USP should be displayed on your website, social media, and other marketing materials. A good USP won’t appeal to everyone, but that’s ok. Build a USP that is tailored and speaks directly to your target audience.
Other things to consider while working on your USP are your strengths and weaknesses. To do this, use a SWOT analysis, which will help ensure business decisions are well informed. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
what is it we’re good at? These are your strengths
what can we do better? These are your weaknesses
how can we grow, change and improve? These are your opportunities
what is happening or could happen, both internally and externally, that might affect us negatively? Those are the threats.
While constructing your USP, it’s a good idea to check what the competition is up to. When starting a competitor analysis, make sure to utilise the free tools available online. Start with search engines, which can offer the most immediate answers.
Simply search for your key terms and make note of:
who appears in the top results on search engines for your product or service
which keywords appear on their website, that is, what words are they using in the page titles on their website, and
what messaging they use on their social media.
Another way to stay up to date with what competitors are doing is through signing up to alerts systems. Free tools like Google Alerts show you who is talking about certain topics online, so they help you keep your finger on the pulse. Try setting up alerts for key products or services, as well as your own business and competitor names. You’ll then receive notifications when the terms you enter are discussed online, and be able to see how your business or the business you work for compares.
Let’s take a look at how these tips can be applied to help you stand out online:
So what makes you different online? Use the tips from this lesson to find out what your competition is doing, and use a SWOT analysis to identify what makes you stand out.