How to keep up to speed with your competitors

By Elin Salekärr

How to keep up to speed with your competitors

Is your marketing plan game for what's needed right now? Do you have suitable marketing activities in place to meet your audience's demands and stay ahead of your competitors? Here is what I think should be the primary focus right now.

First off, to decide what you should do, you might want to glance at the world around you. In these times of uncertainty and post-pandemic fatigue, you can never be sure of what tomorrow will bring, but you can at least anticipate the overall challenges. Idling is not an option; you still have to go with something, right?! Your competitors don't have all the answers either, so you're in with the exact prerequisites as everybody else. That's a good start.

The pandemic has shaped our habits, and the digital transformation (that for many was a forced transition to survive) is here to stay. Hence, a continuous focus on online marketing activities should be a no-brainer.

There are many challenges your visitors are wrestling with; supply chain hiccups and price pressures, time shortage, customer and staff retention, proving ROI and demonstrating results, etc., and the list goes on. These struggles are something all marketers and content producers need to keep in mind to create the right message, format, and define the desired outcome of a campaign. Here is what HubSpot considers to be the top 7 global marketing challenges of 2022 that I think is a good read.

Have you taken a second look at your opportunities to diversify from the crowd? Your product or solution is probably not unique, so you need to add those extra perks (brilliant customer care, frequent and knowledgeable insights that can be easily found and accessed by anyone, etc.) to stay ahead of the competition. And this is continuous work that will never be completed. That also means that you need to constantly optimise your content and the user experience to stay relevant and up to date.

Are you tending the basics? I'm probably preaching to the choir now, but if you cheat with the fundamentals and head off for a shortcut, your efforts will soon fall flat, and there you are with unnecessary sunk cost. Building something solid takes time, and you should get the easy wins along the way. Just make sure that you have both a long-term and short-term strategy (and preferably the mid-term milestones, too) laid out in detail before you get going - it will save you a lot of headaches later. Having this in place, you ensure that you can easily monitor the progress as you go along.

You want to ensure what you're communicating reaches (and stays with) your target personas over the loud marketing noise. In addition to competing with similar brands with similar services, some algorithms can heavily affect your delivery, so creating a good checklist is a must;

  • Define the right message for your persona
  • Use an adequate tone of voice
  • Use personalisation and be authentic
  • Check your on-site SEO (keywords, meta descriptions, user-friendly URLs, etc.)
  • Quality assurance of format and spelling (don't be too quick here, even the best of campaigns can backfire if it's got typos and a confusing layout)
  • Optimising your images 
  • Minding your core web vitals (by checking how your user experience is doing in terms of loading times, responsiveness, and visual stability)
  • Other dependencies, e.g., industry metrics
  • Promotion on Social Media and paid ads
  • Monitoring and maintenance

Already have all of that covered? Good, then you can continue with your nurturing and evolvement activities.

One thing that usually gets left behind is nurturing and keeping those already within your reach. It's tempting to chase new opportunities, but how's the situation with customer retention? Is that in your roadmap? Nurture them to keep them! Probably more important than ever, especially now when Google intends to kill (or at least replace) cookies, knowing and owning your audience is essential. And don't forget about your brand advocates; they are gold if you serve them properly. Ensure you have qualitative and relevant content to update and educate them over time. Use insightful content to build relationships with your customers that last in the long haul.

Speaking of content, content is (still) king. Here are some boxes to tick to uphold relevancy, authenticity, and personalisation;

  • Curate your existing content—you can make what you already have shine again with some minor adjustments.
  • Be authentic—your audience knows what they want and will definitely see through if your message isn't genuine, memorable, and valuable.
  • Invest in research to build trust as a thought leader, come up with something new, and make your audience more willing to share it on Social Media. Find something you can use to be unexpected yet still professional.
  • Use video! Because that's where we all need to be now. There's apparent consumer demand for more videos. Research shows that 84% of consumers have been convinced to purchase by watching a video. According to Cisco, video content is expected to account for 82% of all online traffic by 2022. 
  • Embrace the power of data—tailor great customer satisfaction based on what you have gathered here. Automate your activities wherever applicable for best growth and optimisation so you can focus on what truly needs the manual touch.
  • Be personal—because you want to rise above the established marketing strategies you and everybody else are using. You need to showcase that your service is the right solution for your visitors. Personality is vital, especially when you have a bunch of competitors.  

Want to know more about content creation? Through our content creation guide, you'll find much more to read. Download the guide to get advice to facilitate content creation for your audience in specific contexts. 


Download guide


Maybe it's also time for a brand refresh? When was the last time you conducted a brand audit of everything your company conveys? Framing your brand personality might help you understand your audience's perception of your brand. Back in 1997, Stanford researcher Jennifer Aaker grouped this into five broad categories, which, at least to some extent, still apply today:

  • Sincerity
  • Excitement
  • Competence
  • Sophistication
  • Ruggedness

She called it the Brand Personality Framework. It is interesting to see what adjectives you identify yourself with and which personality dimension you end up with. It can help clarify what distinguishes you from the competition. Establishing the right personality for your brand will help prospective customers decide on whether you are the right brand for them or not.

Remember that nothing comes for free in a competition, so be ready to get dirty when chasing your goals. The most important thing to keep in mind is, as someone once said, you can do anything, but not everything, so make sure to create a well-grounded and reasonable plan that allows you to spend your efforts and resources wisely.

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Elin Salekärr
Project Manager 2011-14 and 2017-23.
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