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Key Factors to Effective Competitive Analysis as a Small Business

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Starting and being a small business is a scary thing, especially with all the big businesses out there that you will likely have to compete with. A competitive edge is something that you always want to keep, no matter what type of business you might be in.

Regardless, starting a new business isn't easy and can be extremely overwhelming, but there are ways to make it not quite as so. One of those ways is by using competitive analysis and PPC to your advantage to gain a leg up on what the competition is doing and ultimately make your marketing plans easier from the get-go.

We all know that there are lots of big guys out there, and being a small business might seem terrifying. After all, you have to compete with the big boys that have already established names in their markets and have their Internet marketing programs in place.

Starting Out With Competitive Analysis

One of the biggest questions a new business faces is probably something along the lines of “where the *?%&# should I start!?”

Well, the logical answer would be to start with a realistic business plan, but that plan should also contain competitive analysis as a mainstream part of it. You don't want to just start throwing money everywhere when you have all kinds of other things to worry about as a new business (many of them financial).

Yes, you can compete with the big guys, and it's much easier to know where to start based on what your competition is doing. There's no better basis from which to start.

As a small business you will want to decide what kind of a budget you want to spend on your PPC. After that, you can use that as a foundation for what exactly you want to accomplish with your PPC – and use your competitors to decide where to allocate the funds.

What kind of ad spend do you want to use? What is the most important aspect of PPC that you want to focus on? Use your competitors to figure that all out, and go from there to implement your own plan.

What Can You Find Out From Your Competitors? A Lot!

If you think about it, other than the big name guys you might not even know who some of your biggest competitors are. Competitive analysis can tell you just that.

Everyone needs storage now and again, so let's assume that we're a new self-storage facility getting out into the business world. There are so many big guys out there including, but not limited to, names like UHaul and Public Storage. Then there are the local, smaller companies. How are you going to compete with them?

First off, figure out who your competitors are. Take a look below:

uhaul-competitors-in-ads

Finding out what strategies your competitors are using in their PPC, and what strategies they have used in the past (also what worked or didn't work) will only help you more.

Imagine how helpful it would be to find out which products and services that they are selling and marketing the most so that you can consider selling (or avoiding) them as well. Maybe you want to consider starting to store cars and boats rather than just the units themselves. Look at what your competition has done with regards to this, and make a well thought-out conclusion as to whether it would be fruitful for you to duplicate.

Let's now look at some of the many things you can do.

1. Use Their Ad Copy

Not sure what you want to write in your ad copy as a new small business? You will want to consider what you are offering and what you'd like to accomplish the most, but take a look at what the competition is doing. By viewing the ad copy of your competitors, it can be much easier to create your own text and to see what copy is being used more often and what is being largely promoted.

uhaul-unique-ads-overview

public-storage-unique-ads-overview

In the case of UHaul and Public Storage, UHaul does promote self-storage along with incorporating boats, trucks, boxes, and other keywords and services into their ads.

Public Storage is using their ads to promote a special of $1 for the first month – might this be something that you would want to consider doing with your own ads? Maybe for the new self-storage business an even better special could be started and promoted just as Public Storage is.

Viewing the ad copy of your competitors allows for you to see what is working, what is being promoted the most, and what they are focusing on the most with their ads. What better way to help you to come up with your own. Spying has its advantages!

2. Analyze Keywords

publicstorage-list-of-ads-keywords

Keywords are a colossal part of any Internet marketing campaign, and as a small business it isn't easy to decide what keywords you would benefit from the most. So, taking a look at what keywords your competitors are bidding on would help you to decide, as well as other aspects such as:

  • How many results there are.
  • The monthly volume.
  • Competition.
  • What the CPC for each one is. 
  • Are they bidding on certain keywords every month? 
  • How much budget are they allocating to each one?

These are all factors that you should take into consideration when deciding which keywords to bid on.

3. Look Back Historically

Let's suppose that this new public storage business is being started in May, and eventually the holiday season will be upon us – so you want to see how your competition tackled the season the year before. You've got it, competitive analysis can do that. You can look back and see what keywords they were bidding on, what their ad copy was, along with every other facet that there is to see.

Below is one of the many possible examples, showing a historical AdWords report for UHaul:

uhaul-historical-adwords-report

4. Compare More Than 1 Competitor

So you've determined many of your competitors and want to compare the keywords they are bidding on, their traffic, trends, new and lost keywords, ads, and more. You can compare more than one competitor at a time for all of these features, allowing you to easily see similarities and differences between your competitors.

If you want a visual representation of similar types of data, you can use the chart tool to see just that – and in time, add yourself to the comparison to see how you are stacking up as your Internet marketing program takes off.

domain-comparison-publicstorage-uhaul-budgettruck

domain-comparison-chart-publicstorage-uhaul-budgettruck

And Much, Much More

Do you want to look at backlinks? You can do that.

Want to track keywords and let the tracker do the work for you? You can do that, too.

These are all hugely beneficial ways that a small business can build itself up against competitors big and small – and there are so many things that you can do to help your Internet marketing campaign via your competition.

How Can Competitive Analysis Help You?

Learn How to Analyze Your Competitors at SES Toronto 2013: See the full agenda.

Will it work? Is competitive analysis worth the investment?

The answer is yes. Competitive analysis can be good for both your organic and paid PPC strategies, and it is an extremely effective way to make your SEO strategy that much more versatile and successful – right from the start. You can apply all that you found out to your own Internet marketing campaign, and have a much more constructive grounding to jump off of if you do.

Businesses both large and small in all sorts of different markets are taking advantage of all that competitive analysis has to offer because, believe it or not, espionage does have its benefits – and if your competitors are already spying on you (or will be), why not join the game or even beat them to the punch?


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