How to do Marketing Research using Your Competitors

This is marketing research (advertisement methods research) NOT market research. Marketing research is to find out what methods of advertising work while market research is what the market for a product looks like.

Intro for How to do Marketing Research

There are many ways to do marketing research and we probably won’t be able to know all of them but we will do our best here. If you don’t see a tool that we should be listing, let us know in the post advisor form at the end of the post.

Be aware that market research and marketing research are two different things but are very similar.

A great way to do some market research is to look at what your direct or indirect competitors are doing in the market. Direct competitors are the folks that are doing something very close to what you are doing and indirect competitors are competitors that are doing that is somewhat tangential to what you are doing. For instance if you are selling tshirts then someone selling tshirts is your direct competitor. Someone selling pants however is your indirect competitor because it falls in the category right above the category you are in, which in our example would be clothing.

There are a number of sectors that you can analyze about your competitors but these are the same type of topics you would be analyzing in your own business model. Some of those topics would be:

  • Pricing
  • Shipping
  • Design of the product or website or both
  • Marketing efforts and methods
  • Business outlook and goals (e.g. formal or flashy)

Most folks will mainly be interested in the marketing but all the other items are still very important to look at and recognize. The competitors already have done all the hard work so learn from them. They are already reaching the market you want to reach. Be aware however that sometimes large companies don’t know what they are doing either so don’t always do what they are doing. Use your best judgment but use them as inspiration.


Getting Started

  • Who are your competitors?
  • What are your competitors doing to get traffic and sales?
  • Where do your competitors get mentioned?
Example: You have a video game related device you would like to sell.

  • Who are your competitors?

Logitech, Mad Catz, Microsoft, etc.

  • What are your competitors doing to get website or store foot traffic?

They make press releases, promotional videos, special landing pages, ads, and are already followed.

  • Where do your competitors get mentioned?

Gaming forums, video game blogs, and other large video game websites.

Who are your competitors?

Find and order your competitors by traffic amounts. List the largest at the top.

What are your competitors doing to get website or store foot traffic?

Traffic comes from marketing to get people in the door and sales comes from marketing that is inside the door)

Where do your competitors get mentioned?

Do they get mentioned in blogs, on the news, in interviews, or talk shows? Where do they get mentioned. Figure out how they are doing it and if you can do it.


Who are your competitors?

This is the easy part. We use the tools someone would go and look for products or services and see who shows up on top.

Some Methods

Google

Go to Google and type in the subject of your website and see who pops up. You only need to worry about the people on the first page. Honestly only about the top 3 or 4 results. Well at least the top 3 or 4 valid results. What I mean by valid results is that some websites will pop up that are not usually there for some reason. You will be able to tell which ones to pay attention to most likely.

Do a few searches like that and keep track of who pops up and in what order. Those are your main competitors.

Let’s say you are looking to see who your video game competitors are for your video game product. You will search for “video game peripheral” or “video game product”. Don’t search for the plural because when searching for the singular it will generally throw in the plurals as well. If your product is a video game community you are going to look for “video game forum” or “video game forum”. You can use Google keyword tool to figure out what keywords will give you the best results and those results will have the top competitors in them.

Facebook

Go to Facebook and type in subject in the search box. You will see groups pop up. (e.g. video games) Those are the groups you have to compete with for Facebook groups.

Other

I bet you can think of some other ways to find competitors. You just look where you would look if you were looking for a product like yours. If you can’t think of where that would be, you are going to have a lot of problems.


What are your competitors doing to get website or store foot traffic?

Where have you seen them show up? That is where they are getting the traffic and sales. Of course you probably want much harder data than that so we will have to go looking. Google search their name and see where they are popping up. Try searching for their name and then the word ads. (e.g. Playstation ads)

There are some tools you can use however to figure out where they are popping up.

This tool has many of the other search tools plugged right into it. It is easy to use and is a nice little plugin for your browser. As of the time of this writing they do not have a dashboard up but they are working on building one. They want to bring all the power you need right to your fingertips. There are a lot of tools that can help though.

Try these Tools and Methods for Research

You can poke around using those tools to figure out all sorts of information on competitors and what they are doing and use that information for your own good.

Where / How are they advertising or marketing their product or service?

  • Some offline methods: Newspaper, radio, billboards, guerrilla marketing (interesting ads placed on sidewalks, giving away a free meal at a new diner to hair dressers so they tell their clients of that new place they ate, etc.)
  • Some online methods: Paid advertising (Google adwords, facebook ads, reddit ads, etc.), social media (twitter, a facebook page, youtube viral videos, pinterest, posting into forums, etc.), content marketing (value giving using their blog, guest bloggers, help videos on youtube of vimeo, podcasts, etc.)

Are they using banner ads on forums, are they doing viral video marketing, or what else are they doing? There are so many ways to market so it is good to see what is working for the competitor so you don’t have to do all the hard work figuring out if something works or doesn’t work. This doesn’t mean that they are perfect. Sometimes large corporations are just sloppy with how they do things but have enough money to push their way onto a Super Bowl ad space slot. Use the lowest cost per highest gains marketing methods. Use some ideas that you know will work and have seen work for similar products or markets.

Every industry is different. Check out marketing methods to see what seems to be working best and is then applicable to your target audience. Go in that order. Start off looking at top marketing methods and then see which ones apply best to your project.

Where are they marketing using those tactics?

Sometimes ads work best on Google search engine, some work best on Facebook, some work best on forums. Where exactly are they applying those marketing tactics? Would it apply to what you are doing? If so that would be your best bet since they are already doing it well.

Be focused on the tactics that you use by doing fewer marketing tactics and do them often enough that you become very good at them. Don’t spread out the scope of your marketing too much or you will not do any of them well. You must keep a tight focus in marketing and other things or your attentions and finances will be too spread out to do any of it well.


Where do your competitors get mentioned?

  • You can find this out by going to news feeds and seeing where they are being mentioned. Try Google News or Yahoo News.
  • Search their web address. (e.g. Reddit.com) and you will see who is posting their url in their stories and the top ranking results are the big websites that get attention.

This will help you see where they are getting noticed the most so you can figure out how to get there or methods in which they are being noticed. If they are being noticed because of press releases, then make some press releases, if they show up on blogs, then start a blog that can be reposted, etc. Of course this is not something that is going to be the easiest thing but just something to notice.


Ways to do Some Research

There are a number of tools available. Check out our lists as well as some of the methods we list below and around the website.

Follow.net

This tool has many of the other search tools plugged right into it. It is easy to use and is a nice little plugin for your browser. As of the time of this writing they do not have a dashboard up but they are working on building one. They want to bring all the power you need right to your fingertips.

Google Keyword Tool

Use this tool to find what people are searching for on a global or local scale. You will only really want to pay attention to the local scale if you do not plan to do international business or if you do not wish to factor international business into your plans. That is probably best if you want to do a more conservative research plan. Do searches for terms you think people will be searching for. Do as many as you can think of. 10 is probably enough. Keep track of what the top results are in terms of how many searches are done. Keep only the results from the top 3 search terms.

Use the download button to download into the “CSV for excel” format. Use the A to Z filtering on the “local monthly searches” results column. It will ask you if you want to bring the other content with. Say yes. Delete repeated items.

You can get a good idea of how many people are interested in something by how many times it is searched per month in your local area (country). If you see a lot of competition for a phrase, it means that the idea is working and making someone money enough to buy the ads. It also means it is going to be a more fierce market to get into.

With this marketing research we are attempting to find the best keywords and the amount of traffic they get to figure out what keywords to use in our websites SEO and such. We could use the information to validate an idea but that is not the purpose of this post.

This will give you an idea of how well the search terms are doing on Google. Now you can compare them to places like Facebook Ads and such.

Remember we are looking for what groups are best found where and how hard it will be to market to them and how much it will cost to do so.

Facebook Ads

You forgot to mention that you can also go through the steps of creating an ad on Facebook for free and check your target audience. You can filter it by location, interests, people with Android phones, tablets etc.

You can get useful marketing information not necessarily about competitors but about the market in general about keywords from making an ad. You don’t have to actually finish making the ad, you just start making it. It will generate all kinds of information about the reach as you manipulate the demographics you want to hit. That will give you a good set of information about what will work best for what groups in terms of keywords used. This relates more to Facebook but can be applied elsewhere. You can filter by location, interests, gender, people with Android phones, tablets, etc.

It may be interesting to see the differences in how things look when compared to Google Keyword Tool or other tools.

Remember we are looking for what groups are best found where and how hard it will be to market to them and how much it will cost to do so.

Social Media Icons

Most websites will have a bunch of social media icons that shows what networks they are a part of. Click them and note how many fans, followers, or subscribers they have on those websites. Click on the fans and you can find out some demographic information.

Facebook Fan Demographics

A tool for figuring out demographic data of Facebook folks is FanPageKarma. Plug in the id information it asks for and you will get all sorts of helpful information about the audience they have.

 

This article was mainly about using competitors to figure out some strategies. For strategies that are not based on your competitor you can read more marketing and advertising information on this website.

For more information and inspiration you could also read this Ask Me Anything on Reddit.com

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