Do you pay attention to what your competition is doing with their marketing?
For our frequent listeners, they’ve heard us say over and over that the most important thing you can do is to use an archetype to help you differentiate. But that comment always comes with a caveat: To evaluate what your competitors are doing and, in some cases, to make your archetype choice so as NOT to go head-to-head with them.
Let’s use an example:
Let’s say we’re talking about a local electrician. They go through the process of picking an archetype but haven’t finalized their pick.
- Spending just a little bit of time evaluating their competitors, they find 8 out of their 10 competitors are mostly all over the place, but kind of feel like they’re being neighborly.
- One of the other 2 is solidly a Neighbor archetype and the other looks like they’re pretty strong in their use of the Sage/Guru Archetype.
- So, what would we recommend? DEFINITELY NOT The Neighbor … but not the Sage/Guru either.
NOTE: We’d guess that more than 75% will find that their competitors have no brand strategy at all, OR they may have a weak strategy that just feels like what you said, “all over the place.” This is good news for you!
Type of Competitors
There are two types of competitors:
- DIRECT competitors are those that perform the exact same service or an almost identical product. Think ‘Coke’ vs. ‘Pepsi.’
- A PERCEIVED competitor is one that isn’t offering an identical product or service, but the average consumer puts you into the same bucket. So, ‘Coke’ and ‘7-Up’.
How to evaluate your competition
Once you have a list of your competitors (and it makes sense to create a spreadsheet for this step), sort them so the ones that impact you the most are at the top. Create columns in the spreadsheet for things like:
- their website URL
- their social platforms
- YouTube channel (for commercials)
- any other links/notes
- On a scale of 1-10, how would you rank them
- What’s your best guess of their archetype (if any)?
Now that you have a list of the competitors, your first step is to take a quick look at them with one question in mind: “With everything I’ve seen, do they seem to focus on a single, powerful emotional connection?”
Although you might need to take a deeper dive, a super quick place to start would be to look at:
- Their website homepage: Are they talking about themselves exclusively or are they talking about the needs of their customers? If the latter, do they continue this focus elsewhere in their marketing?
- Their social media posts: Do their posts seem like random picks or do they fit in a strategic, focus on a single emotional connection?
Most likely you won’t need to go further than this step. If you’re giving their brand a 3 or 4, and you plan on rocking it with a 9 or 10, then you don’t need to worry about them… they will soon be chasing you.
Evaluate their content – THE WORDS
One of the most important things to look at critically is their word usage (SURPRISE!). First, if they’re talking about themselves, their products, their services, then they’re NOT making emotion-based connections. So, pro tip: don’t do that either.
Second. Read ALL the copy in their site, their marketing collateral, their radio/tv copy, their social posts … pretty much anything that can be seen by the general public. How does all that copy feel as one big lump?
- Is it consistent?
- Is it powerful?
- Is it focused on one way of connecting with people? If so, what is that connection? Now is when you can take a guess at their archetype.
If you find yourself scratching your head trying to figure out what archetype they are, then they’re not doing it right! It’s ok to put “none” in that archetype column.
An interesting part of word research is to look at their website SEO. If you’re not aware of the ScreamingFrog application, download it … it’s an awesome app that you’ll use a lot. Even the free version will quickly gather a TON of info about your competitor’s strategy.
If they’re not doing that at all, then move along to the next step. If they are doing SEO, what’s their focus? Is it focused on industry, products, and services? … or does their list of keywords/phrases include brand connections and emotional connections as well as the more obvious words/phrases?
Last week we talked a little about reputation management, I’d suggest part of a deeper dive into competitor intel is to see what people are saying about them:
- Consider the ratio of good vs bad comments
- What’s the extremity of good and bad comments?
- Look at comments on social platforms, review sites, comments on their blog, comments, and posts on other blogs.
- You can get a great feel about the strength of a brand by seeing what people are saying about it.
If you didn’t catch our podcast this past December “Measuring Your Brand’s Effectiveness” then definitely go back and listen to that. The same concepts you find there can not only be applied to your own brand but can also be applied to your competitor’s brands … with the goal of better understanding their strengths/weaknesses.
One last, important point is that this quick competitive review should be done on a regular basis … every year or so. When you dig up new info on your competitors, you likely won’t change your archetype (which would more than likely be a HUGE mistake), but it’s always good to know who’s right on your heels, who are strengthening their brands, and how you might need to slightly adjust your brand strategy to address the changes you find.
The Wrap Up
Do you have any pressing questions? Contact us! We get it that you don’t know what you don’t know … but if you have any quirky questions or if anything seems even a little bit confusing, let us know what you’re thinking! We’d love to address them in future podcasts.
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