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Know Your Enemy: What You Should Consider When Studying Competitors and Your Industry

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When it comes to maintaining a competitive edge in your respective industry, your goal should be to always remain two steps ahead of everyone else. This requires you to thoroughly study your competition as well as the industry overall in order to find out exactly what needs to be done to achieve your goal. There are several points that you should consider closely to do just that.

Focus on Strengths and Weaknesses

One of the primary areas of concern should be the strengths and weaknesses of your competition. This will actually help you in two different ways. First and foremost, you will be able to see if you can follow in their footsteps when it comes to their overall strengths. Focus on what your competitors are doing well and come up with ways for you to do the same. From an industry perspective, identify key areas of improvement that are necessary within the industry overall and try to come up with ways to effectively fill those voids. With a little creativity and follow-through, you can easily be able to gain an edge over your competition by simply finding a way to get ahead in the race. Another step that can really come in handy in this regard is conducting a thorough SWOT analysis on the industry as a whole. This stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

The Key Elements of a Thorough Analysis

In order to conduct this type of analysis, there are several key areas on which you need to focus and study closely. As mentioned earlier, the strengths and weaknesses of the industry are the first two steps that you would have already completed before you even get to this part of the process. However, take the time to reflect on what you discovered through that stage of intense research, because it will definitely come in handy.

The final two steps of the SWOT analysis consist of paying attention to potential opportunities that exist within the overall business climate, as well as the future threats that you are more than likely going to have to face at one point or another. Studying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is a quick four-step process that will make it relatively easy to study your competitors as well as the industry in general when searching for a way to effectively gain the edge you desire, according to Inc.

Research Social Networks

Before the increasing popularity and prevalence of social networking websites transitioned into the business world, you may have needed to do a lot of digging and searching to find out anything about competing brands within your industry. Nowadays, you can gain direct access to almost everything you need to know either from their social media profiles or official website, according to Social Media Examiner. Take the time to milk these resources for all that they are worth, especially when it comes to social networking. You may even be able to complete an efficient SWOT analysis based on the content that you find on these websites alone.

For example, if you are already on Facebook, there’s a section in your admin panel called “Pages to Watch.” This is where you can essentially spy on your competition. This handy tool will show you how many likes they have and how much growth they’ve recorded on a weekly basis, according to Social Media Examiner. You can use this information to look for trends. If your main competitor got a lot of new Facebook likes in the past few days, check out their page to find out why. Are they offering a contest? Are they paying to boost their posts? Don’t forget to play close attention to details, because there is an abundance of resourceful information that is waiting to be discovered within the details that many other people will easily overlook and neglect. For instance, read through the comments and posts that have been left by other customers and clients over the past in reference to their products, services and overall content. This could be a good opportunity for you to learn from your competitor’s strengths and emulate them, hopefully adding to your company’s social media growth and in turn, growth as a business overall.

Put in the Time Necessary

Keep in mind that this is not something that can be accomplished overnight. You will need to invest a considerable amount of time and effort into this ongoing research project in order to retain your competitive edge in the industry after you have worked so hard to obtain it in the first place. The key to this is that it’s ongoing. Businesses are continuously growing and changing, so you need to keep up with your analysis to make sure you have your finger on the pulse of what’s hot and what’s not in your industry.

Last updated on February 19, 2015.

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