By Andrew Owen
Boost Holiday Sales by Learning from Your Competition
For many businesses, the holidays are the most important months of the year. Not only is it the time when they go into the black and make their biggest profits of the year, it is also the time when they need to advertise and promote themselves creatively in order to stand out.
After all, given the sheer amount of ads and marketing tactics deployed around the holiday season, it can be difficult for consumers to separate signal from noise. Therefore, you need to do everything that you can to make your audience click on your ads, visit your site, and make a purchase. A great place to start is to understand the tactics your competition employs – and learn how to adapt your holiday marketing program accordingly.
Know Your Current and Potential Enemies
Every business owner or marketer has a mental shortlist of brands or companies that they consider their primary competition. These are the obvious choices for you to start monitoring and “listening” to first, but there’s more to it than that. Getting into the mind of your customer is necessary to find the deeper information.
For instance, consider which brands your customers commonly buy in parallel with your products, e.g. workout clothing with running shoes or Fitbits? Are there companies that are aligned with your services that would possibly become competitors in the future, like a real estate agent that may start offering rentals as well?
Once you have determined both companies competing with your brand and those who offer complimentary products, the next step is figuring out not only what these brands have in common, but how you can fit into the larger scheme of things in your own, unique way.
Using Search To Discover (And Learn From) New Rivals
Use search to your advantage. Know which keywords your customers are searching, what terms and phrases are currently popular in your niche, and the companies that show up in the search results – and there are plenty of free tools that you can use to help you understand search trends.
After all, it is important to remember that the brands that you think of as your competition might not be the same ones that your audience considers to be alternatives to your brands. Therefore, it is important to look to the broader web and get an idea of the trends and corresponding relevant keywords. Get out of your own head in order to discover new things about your industry.
Study Your Competitor’s Tactics And Strategies – And Adapt Them For Your Brand
What aspects of your competitions marketing programs do you admire? What aspects do you find mediocre, or even miscalculated? Try to understand their goals and use that to analyze their advertising and promotional decisions.
You ultimately want to understand your how you can leverage your competitor’s ads to your advantage within the context of our own brand. Perhaps you can create a gift-centric rivalry—similar to how Apple and Samsung tried to one-up each other’s release dates in China–that makes for a compelling storyline, or do something more basic like buying ad space on the same sites, or those that attract a similar audience.
Look at the brands with advertising you admire, even if they aren’t a competitor or even in a related vertical. Learn from them and identify if you can mimic or modify their techniques to fit your unique offerings. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Determine How to Track Their Marketing and Advertising Activities
There are a variety of options when it comes to following your competition’s online marketing activities. Of course, you can, and should, do the obvious things such as following them on your various social media platforms, but you can also follow them on Owler.
Owler offers a daily snapshot that can keep you up-to-date with competitor’s activity, allowing you to make quick and relevant changes to your own campaign. Additionally, by analyzing companies’ social stats, you can compare your own social media campaign and figure out where it’s deficient and where energy may be wasted. These features and more will make software integration a big help in developing a competitive advantage.
In addition to the manual tracking options, there are also apps and online services that will help you streamline the process. And it is not that complicated to begin monitoring your competitors. For instance, getting started with competitor intelligence software can be as simple as signing up for a service, entering your details and the names of your competing brands, and scheduling reports. And these types of knowledge and learnings will extend far beyond the 2014 holiday season.
It’s also a good idea to stay on top of things like finances or stock. A variety of tools exist online to help with just this–taking advantage of these and other tools can help guarantee a streamlined business process that will guarantee a level playing field at least, and an edge at best over your competition.
Overall, we all need to remember that we don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel to develop a successful holiday marketing campaign. Rather, study the competition and see what they do well – and then do it better!
About the Author
Owen Andrew is a journalist in Southern California. He enjoys using his business experience to inform and educate others. On his free time he enjoys attending EDM concerts, and looks forward to Comic Con and E3 every year.