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Staying Ahead of the Competition

By Sharon Housley

Staying ahead of the competition can be an on-going struggle. While it is not healthy for a company to focus too much time and attention on the competition, it is important to stay abreast of what your competition is doing. When evaluating the competition, assess the industry giants and companies closest to your space. But be sure that you don't exclude the small companies in your assessments. Sometimes a small competitor can have innovative ideas or marketing concepts, but may lack the capital to really benefit from the concept. This may present you with an opportunity.

When evaluating the competition pay attention to the following:

1. Pricing

Evaluate your competitor's pricing scheme and price structure. What is the price point of your competitor's products or services? Are your products better or inferior? Do the product differences justify any cost difference?

2. Meta Tags / Search Engine Optimization

Evaluate your competitor's website. View the meta data of competing websites. Look at their Alexa ranking, and review who links to their website. Are there links you are missing that might be beneficial to your website?

3. Search Rankings

Perform generic searches in the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN) for critical phrases. Determine how the competition stacks up in the search listings. Do any of your competitors own important rankings. Consider your search engine strategy and how you can better compete in the search engines.

4. Specials / Marketing Campaigns

Access your competitor's special offers and any marketing campaigns. Determine how they are defining themselves. Evaluate any niche marketing -- perhaps they have located an untapped market that might be ripe for you as well.

5. Advertising

Where do your competitors spend their advertising dollars? Watch for trends -- an increase in spending may mean that a competitor has seen a significant return on investment, and it may represent a channel that you should also consider advertising in.

6. Evaluate Links

Determine who is linking to your competitor's websites. By using the special Google search feature links: you can see the indexed web pages that link to a specific domain. Are you missing any important link opportunities?

7. Evaluate USP

Evaluate your competitors USP (Unique Selling Propositions). This will give you an idea of how a company sees themselves, and what they feel their strengths are. How does their unique selling proposition differ from yours. Are there areas within your company that need work so you can compete more effectively?

8. Industry Authority Assessments

How do industry authorities view the competition? Are they considered industry leaders, or is the space wide open with an undefined leader? Understanding how you stack up compared to your competitors will help you assess your strengths weaknesses, and define your business.

Knowing your competition is an important aspect to your business, but it should not be the sole factor that dictates your decisions. Educate yourself about your competitors so you can make informed decisions and compete effectively.

About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for RecordForAll audio recording and editing software.


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