How can understanding your competitors help you grow?
By Charlie Britten
16 Aug 2019
There are many factors that help a company grow or fail to grow. The quality of its staff, the firm’s reputation and brand strength, new technology, the state of the economy and changing consumer tastes all play a major part.
Above all, however, the most important factor is being able to offer something different or better than the rest of the competition.
Whether in the area of law, marketing or any other business, the aim should always be the same; to provide a great service to customers and give them something the others can’t. But sometimes it can be very hard to work out just what will make the difference.
Part of that knowledge gap can be closed with market research, which will give insights into consumer tastes, aspirations and expectations, as well as their common disappointments. But your rivals will be seeking similar insights - and drawing up their own responses.
The first way understanding your competitors will help you grow is to study just what they are doing and what effect their approaches are having. If you have rivals who are clearly gaining more custom, increasing their market share and ultimately making more money, they are clearly doing something right. The question is: what?
Good research is required to establish just what is making the difference, because there may be multiple factors at play.
- A rival firm may be doing well partly because its marketing strategy has improved and it is writing better blogs
- It may have started offering new services
- It could have raised the standards of its existing offer
- It is offering incentives like discounts.
This does not mean you should copy everything they do, because our own firm may not be geared up to offer the same things. But there will be plenty you can emulate. For instance, if a rival has benefited by expanding its presence on social media, this is something you could do as well.
Just because a rival firm is doing something different to yours does not mean that it is necessarily a good idea. They might have tried some new approaches in their marketing, offered a special type of deal or launched a new product or service that has had no impact or has even lost money.
The simple reality for any business is that if it tries out new ideas, some may fail and produce either a poor return on investment or make an actual loss. Therefore, you can benefit from the mistakes of others by not copying them.
For example, suppose a rival firm seeks to increase its social media marketing and, like you, has a target market made up mostly of males aged over 35.
- A platform like Facebook may be useful because its demographic is older and has more male users
- However, your rival has gone for Instagram instead, which tends to have a younger and more female demographic.
- Clearly, this is a mistake you would not want to emulate.
There are some very good ways you can assess whether copying the approach of rival firms is wise. One of them is to consider three crucial questions.
- Firstly, is something a rival firm does a thing you can copy in a way that will benefit your firm? If so, go ahead. If not, look for alternatives.
- Secondly, if you can’t copy what they have done exactly, can you at least do something similar in some respects? For instance, you may not have the exact same marketing strategy, but you can benefit from using best practice in SEO.
- Thirdly, is something a rival firm has done effective in helping them grow, or is it holding them back?
By reflecting on these questions and studying the available data, you can work out a strategy that suits your own firm.
Why should you look to innovate?
Studying to what your rivals have been up to is not just about establishing what things you should copy and what to avoid. You may also spot a range of ways in which your rivals have not responded to a new opportunity. This creates an opportunity to be innovative and get ahead of them.
For example, suppose you find from market research that there is a certain group of people who legal firms are not reaching with their marketing strategies. Rather than waiting for someone else to try a new way of reaching them, this is your opportunity to target this group. Similarly, if there is a group of potential clients whose needs are not being met, you can develop a service to fill the gap in the market.
What can we do to help?
At BeUniqueness, our central aim is to provide services that others don’t and understanding what other companies are up to is central to that. With our commitment to innovation and analysis, we can help law firms to develop their marketing strategy to utilise best practice, as well as innovating to make the most of the possibilities others may be missing.