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How to Conduct Competitive Research the Right Way

Knowing who you’re up against is imperative to give you an edge over your competition. You’re likely well aware of how your business performs, but do you know what your competitors are doing? Are you up-to-date on who your top competitors are?

Companies in your market that offer the same services as you, should be considered your competitor (whether they’re good at the service or not). Good or bad, they are setting a standard you need to at least be aware of. Knowing who they are, what they do, and how they do it can help assess your business’s strong points and where you may need improvement.

PRO TIP: Create a chart with your competitors selling points for each business unit. This allows you to quickly analyze their diagnostic fee, promotions, and unique selling propositions against your brand. Then look at the chart in its completion and ask yourself “who would I hire?”.

Why is Competitive Research Important?

Performing a competitive analysis on some of the top-performing businesses in your local market will give you valuable insight into what you need to look for within your company. Thorough competitive research gives you a chance to compare what is helping your competition succeed and what has been working for you.

Suppose you identify weaknesses in your business model compared to other businesses in your market. In that case, you then have the opportunity to strategize solutions to improve your performance and fill your schedule. 

Gathering intel on what your rivals are doing can also assist you in facing the competition head-on. With the ample knowledge a detailed competitive analysis provides, you can plan to counter any threat your competition may pose.

Conducting Your Competitive Analysis

Who Are Your Top 5 Competitors?

The first step to performing thorough competitive research is knowing who your competitors are. Based on your location, there may be dozens of rival businesses specializing in in-home services that can affect your success.

The best way to find out who the top-performing competitors are is to do a search for your top service keyword in your market. Who’s appearing in the ads?  Who’s appearing in the Maps? Search for your type of business with your location, and several similar companies should populate in the results. You can also see what businesses are investing in sponsored or local service ads to see if that may be an excellent place to spend some marketing dollars.

What Are They Putting Out There?

Once you know who your competitors are, you can start to analyze and compare what type of content they are creating. Knowing precisely what they do and how they do it can help you better understand how to tweak your content to make it work for you.

After you know what your competition is putting out, what’s working for them, and what isn’t, you can make strategic decisions on what to do to outperform them. With the information you gather from your rival’s content, you can confidently determine what content will work for you.

The type of content your competitors are creating is also essential. Typical content styles include informative blog posts, case studies, videos, and a myriad of other options that can boost views and engagement. How often they post, their activity, and the topics they discuss also play a critical role in online success.

How Do They Rank?

How your competitors “rank” is a term used to describe how easily they are found online. When a potential customer searches for HVAC services near them, for example, the first few businesses that populate (excluding sponsored ads) will have “ranked” the best. The term SEO, “search engine optimization,” was created to describe this. 

Your competitors SEO can give you invaluable insight into what the market sees when seeking specific services in your area. You can use keyword research alongside tools like SEMrush and Google Analytics for helpful information on what potential customers are looking for and what businesses they’re finding.

When you’ve discovered who is outranking you, you can focus on beating them at their own game. Some examples of this include:

  • If your competitors’ blog posts that overshadow you are listing “5 Tips to Clean Your Gutters at Home”, consider putting out an article with 7 or 8 tips.
  • If their top-ranking post on The Importance of Furnace Cleaning is a few years old, try outranking it with an up-to-date article.

Please note, some keywords are easier to rank than others. Some markets are oversaturated, which makes ranking more difficult even with a noteworthy post.

When you’re inspecting their work, keep your eyes open for broken links and incorrect or dated information. When you evaluate your rival’s content, you’ll create ideas on where you can fill in the gaps and pull ahead of the pack.

How Are They Engaging With Their Audience?

Engagement refers to how your competition is communicating with their audience, primarily online. Typically, engagement is seen on social media through likes, comments, and shares. You and your competitors’ online presence makes a huge difference in an increasingly digital world.

Evaluate how your competitors interact with their audience on social media. Do their posts get a lot of attention through likes, retweets, or shares? Do they have a lot of followers, and does that number increase regularly?

It’s also important to consider what type of content they post and what platforms they use. Is it easily digestible and organized? Some great social media platforms to take advantage of include:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • TikTok
  • Google My Business
  • Pinterest

You can gather a wealth of knowledge from looking at your competitors’ social media. Once you have a deep understanding of how they operate, you can strategize how to do it better!

Apply it to Your Business

There are a few specificities to keep in mind when exploring your local market and what type of competition you’re up against.

Keep it Local

When it comes to home services, it’s likely your competition will be right on your doorstep. Your target audience are local homeowners looking to keep their homes feeling comfortable and running smoothly, so it’s to be expected that they will be searching in their town or city for services.

When you’re looking for your top competitors, try to keep your searches local. Most of your rivals will be sharing your local market, and remember that Google serves you results based on your preference and search history. Get a few people to do the same searches from their device.

Evaluate Their Brand

Home services vary in their service offerings and abilities. When you’re looking for your competition, be sure to rank yourself among competitors that size up to your business. 

For example, are they a small family-owned business? Are they part of a large chain? Their reputation and reviews will play a big part in how they compare to you.

Also, try to get photos of each furnace sticker and vehicle wrap of each competitor so you can compare against your own branding.

Pricing & Service

Your competitors’ pricing and available services are crucial to take into account when performing a thorough competitive analysis. For example, if your business specializes in one specific service, you can claim a competitive advantage against a company that offers a variety without any specialty.

Evaluating what they offer can also help you determine what type of customers they’re looking to target. What they charge for their services also has a significant impact on how they will compare to your business. 

Do they consistently offer deals or discounts for home services? Do they claim premium service at a higher-than-average rate? Contrasting your prices with theirs will give you a solid idea of what you should offer and how much you should charge.

Promotional Activity

One of the first things you will notice when researching your competitors is how they’re promoting themselves. Is their website eye-catching and easy to navigate? Are they using the potential of social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok? Are they consistently advertising online and externally?

What type of seasonal promotions do they run? Is there specific terminology you can adopt? Do they have a company vehicle? What colours do they use? 

There are several questions you should ask yourself when examining rival promotions. After you’ve banked a wealth of knowledge, you can spend some time thinking about how you’d like to react. Depending on your business, you may want to approach the competition head-to-head or go in the opposite direction. 

What works best for you will always depend on your unique business and your market. 

To Sum it Up

Competitive research is a valuable tool to use to better understand where your business stands in the market. If you’d like free downloadable guides or expert marketing advice, visit our website and book a website audit today! Don’t worry – it’s on the house.

Written by: Amanda Wilhelm

Amanda Wilhelm has seen both sides of the coin when it comes to marketing. Starting her career as a small business owner, she was able to grow her own revenues by 50% in the first year alone. This gave her a taste for what could be possible with her natural talents in marketing, research, and strategy.

Working as a Marketing Director for many years, she honed in on these abilities and brought additional skills to the table with a hands-on approach. Amanda has expert competencies in optimizing website conversion, user experience (UX), SEO, AdWords, reputation management, content marketing, marketing automation, video production and management, traditional advertising and marketing budgets.

Amanda actively invests in the entrepreneurial community to share the success that she has found in her pursuits. She takes pride in her leadership abilities, which are characterized by her creative and philanthropic style. Outside of her day-to-day work life, Amanda enjoys being involved in charitable work as well as painting, writing poetry, and composing music.

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