Many law firms and corporations find themselves competing with the same usual suspects over and over again—either the market share “pie” has become sliced into relatively static pieces or they’re part of an oligopoly.
Under these circumstances, a little “Competitive Intelligence 101” is needed to keep close tabs on those few players you’re constantly up against.
Avoiding ‘competitive complacency’
Very often the basics are ignored. That includes this kind of playing field where companies and firms believe they know all there is to know about their primary competitors. It’s important to avoid that pitfall or get yourself out of it with a concerted, ongoing effort to track and analyze your primary competitors from every angle:
- While your competitive playing field may not be shifting much, the players themselves are changing constantly in big and small ways—ways that could have positive or negative consequences.
- Maintaining, and especially growing, your slice of the pie will require fresh ideas, tactics and strategies, and these require reliable, quality information. The famous line about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results applies here.
- Either those businesses are tracking you, in which case you’re handicapped if you don’t do the same, or they’re not tracking you (or doing it poorly), in which case you can gain a competitive advantage.
Considerations for tracking known competitors
When it comes to monitoring a handful of competitors, the following can be great ways of understanding them better and serve as inspiration for fresh ideas.
Follow their blog and social media posts
The topics they’re writing about and sharing will tell you their focus in terms of services, target markets and business priorities. The volume of content they produce for any given subject matter is one of the best indicators of where they are emphasizing thought leadership and expertise.
Monitor their product and service offerings
Look for changes, or lack thereof, to determine their areas of priority and focus. Identify the ways they specialize or customize their offerings, read the client testimonials to assess strengths and better understand any deals or clients you may have lost to them. Look for particular decision-making roles, departments and functions they seem to be targeting that you may be neglecting.
Check their websites regularly
Because it can be a time-consuming task, website monitoring often falls to the wayside or simply isn’t done regularly enough to make a difference. This happens when you perform only cursory checks, which makes it hard to discern any changes worth noting. Again, look for frequency and types of updates and changes, which can reveal insights into their business priorities and strengths. Also, benchmark your website in relation to theirs. Dynamic websites tend to perform better in digital marketing and search optimization. They could be more visible to prospective clients and opportunities looking for information. You can assess their site traffic and ranking relative to your site with resources like Alexa.com, Ahrefs and Semrush.
Track keyword performance and social media followers
Along with monitoring website content and updates, keeping tabs on competitive keywords and social media followers is also a good indicator of market awareness and performance. By monitoring social media, you can assess the number of followers they have, whether they’re growing or not and who is following them within your own client or prospect list. You can also monitor their digital marketing strengths and weaknesses by knowing how they perform on competitive topics and services. AccuRanker for keywords and BuzzSumo for content popularity and sharing are helpful online tools in this area.
Capture and share competitive intelligence
Making good use of internal CRM systems and knowledge-sharing applications is key to creating and leveraging competitive intelligence resources. If your business development and sales teams have been inconsistent and unreliable in their use of these systems, investing in outside consulting services to increase participation and compliance can optimize your CI efforts and infrastructure.
Obtain CI research services and support
The biggest obstacle to monitoring key competitors on a regular basis is lack of internal resources. When research or marketing teams are unable to do this work on a regular basis, whether it’s lack of time or lack of required research and CI skills, it’s time to explore your options for support. While many CI technologies are available to reduce time and expenses, they still require people to do the research and analysis. You can hire more people or explore options like LAC Group’s research and intelligence services. We’ll work with you to assess your needs and craft the best solution, whether it’s a certain amount of virtual and remote research and tracking services with specified CI reports and alerts or embedding a CI researcher within your organization to supplement your own staff.
If you find yourself competing with the same companies or firms, it’s important to position your offering in “column A” of the client’s table of possible vendors. This gives you the benefit of working with a known competitive playing field. However, that potential benefit is available to all, so make sure you’re exploiting it by keeping close, regular tabs on the players in the field.