As a business, it's critical that you do your market research and pay attention to what others are doing around you. Market research helps businesses better understand their target markets, improve their connection with their customers, and solve the challenges facing their businesses. The average business spends between 25 and 50% of its marketing budget on research. Market research gives critical insights into the needs of the target market. These strategies can help ensure that your marketing remains as strong as your competitors'.
1. Keep up with your competition.
Keeping up with the competition starts with knowing who you're competing against. Who is it, in your industry, that is in direct competition with you? How they are advertising, what they are advertising, and who they are targeting are all areas in which you need to analyze. Doing research into these vital areas does not necessarily mean that you want to emulate your competitors. Instead, it means developing a deeper understanding of what they're doing that works and what they're doing that doesn't so that you can adapt your own marketing plan accordingly.
Imagine, for example, that you're a local furniture store that sells primarily wooden furniture. Another furniture store across town, on the other hand, focuses heavily on other types of furniture: sofas and comfortable armchairs. You don't have the exact same market, but you do have similar markets. Keeping up with what sales and promotions your competitor runs can help keep you aware of what consumers are looking for and how to alter your marketing strategy accordingly.
2. Have a detailed understanding of your target audience.
It's not enough to simply cast a wide net and hope that you can bring in interested buyers. Instead, carefully consider who your target audience is and these three things:
- Where you can find them
- What they are looking for
- What grabs their attention
For example, a salon owner might discover that their target audience spends more time on Facebook than on other social media platforms and that they get excited over information about sales and promotions. When you have a clear understanding of your target market, what they want, and how to get their attention you are able to create strong marketing creative that will help you compete with others in your market.
3. Keep up with marketing trends.
Marketing trends change regularly. What your customers want now may look drastically different in six months or a year. As a business, you must stay on top of trends. Which social media platforms are your customers currently using? What search terms are they using? Is there something that is more likely to attract your customers' interest? By keeping up with marketing trends, you can stay at the forefront of your industry and keep track of what your customers need most.
4. Optimize your website.
Thirty-nine percent of consumers will leave a website if the images on that website take too long to load. Forty-four percent will leave if the website doesn't have accurate contact information for the business. Not only that, but you should also optimize your website so that it has better chances of showing up on search engine results pages. If your target audience conducts a search for the product or service, or even if they conduct a search for your competitors, they should find information from your brand that directs them to your website. By optimizing your website you can substantially increase consumers' ability to find your business.
5. Stay true to your brand.
Even though you want to outshine the competition, you still want to make sure that your marketing remains consistent and true to your brand. You should keep your brand voice and your specific target audience at the forefront of all your marketing efforts, even when tempted to change your approach. For example, you don’t want to change your marketing message or strategy to keep up with your competitors if it means sacrificing staying true to your brand and your values.
6. Work with a media partner.
Working with a media partner can help you avoid many common marketing mistakes and improve your overall reach so that you can better connect with your target audience. Your media partner can also provide you with a great deal of information gleaned from their market research, which can help you shape your marketing efforts to reach your target audience. Ultimately, your media partner connection can help you stand out and expand your reach.
Your marketing needs to stand out from the competition in order to draw in prospective customers. Through these strategies, you can improve your marketing efforts and ensure that your marketing remains competitive within your industry--and in many cases, give it the extra boost it needs to rise above the competition.