So you’re hiking with a couple of friends in the woods. It’s a nice enough day and things are fairly jovial when suddenly you come upon a mother bear and her cubs. You realize in that moment that you’re in danger, and no amount of playing dead is going to help. Momma ain’t happy and somebody’s gonna pay.

Immediately you do what everyone says not to do: run. You run for everything you’re worth, dodging branches and hurdling fallen trees. You look back, expecting to see momma on your tail, and realize you’re leading the pack. In fact, one of your friends who put on a few more pounds than you did after college because he still sits around playing video games and eating pizza every night instead of spending what little discretionary income he has on a gym membership has almost zero chance of catching you. It’s then you recall an important marketing adage that wound up on that business midterm you actually studied for: you only have to be better than your competition.

That’s when you relax, but not completely. You wisely conserve energy for the haul back to the truck where you set a reminder on your phone to extend your gym membership. As it turns out, it was more than worth it.

Okay, maybe retooling that old joke was a bit more gruesome than a marketing analogy needs to be, but the point is clear: knowing the competition helps direct your marketing activities. A marketing manager blinded by the amount of digital marketing opportunities and challenges can easily lose sight of how best to use their budget. In terms of developing a website – a dynamic, living tool – the job is never complete. It can become daunting to wonder not just where to start, but when to stop!

That’s why it’s important to spend the time identifying and researching the websites and supporting marketing initiatives of your closest competition – those companies most in line to snatch that precious SERP real estate. Perhaps their capabilities closely match your own and they boast similar OEM programs. Maybe they’re down the road and enjoying the same proximity to major metropolitan centers. Maybe their trade show booth has cookies where yours has coupons for wine. All other things being equal, what might set you apart and win you market share is how wisely you choose to invest your marketing dollars in relation to their choices. In other words, you only need to outrun them to survive and grow.

If your marketing agency isn’t consistently referencing your competition when advising how to use your budget, they’re probably only interested in producing serviceable marketing materials and generic marketing programs that will maintain status quo. If they’re not suggesting methods that are better or counter to what your competition is currently employing, they may succeed in keeping your brand in the market but they’re gambling with your money on keeping it competitive.

SMS researches our client’s and prospect’s competition as a matter of course. We dive deeply into their websites, uncover what they do well and where they might be weak, and run reports on their traffic and standing with Google’s algorithms. We want to know what makes them tick so we can suggest ways to improve on their ideas and fight it out with them for SERP turf. Once we’re toe-to-toe, we can work on messaging and value propositions that will see our products specified over theirs. Most importantly, we want to do all of these things without breaking budgets. Anyone can outspend. Not everyone can spend better.

In the end, doing something is always better than doing nothing. If you don’t run, the bear will get you. But if you’ve invested the time and effort to ensure you’ll run faster and more nimbly than the other guy, you’ll do a better job of covering your butt…or leaving the bear behind.

– S. Norton

For more information on directing your marketing activities through competition research and analysis, feel free to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. Or, simply fill out the short form on our homepage.

*Old joke credit: Bob Norton. 


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