There’s a great deal to focus on when you’re trying to grow your business and make it profitable. One area that small business owners all too often miss is researching their competitors. This is a small part of your day-to-day business operations, but it can make a significant difference in the effectiveness of your marketing. In fact, competitive research should be a critical factor in almost all your business and marketing decisions from the very start and help understanding your competitors.

Do you know what your competition is up to? You should, and here’s why:

  • What Sets You Apart – How do you know what’s unique about your business if you don’t know what your competitors are doing? You may be offering the same or similar products to the same or similar people and in the same or similar way. This is definitely not a good thing for any business. You need to uniquely fulfill the needs of your market in a way that no one else is currently doing it. By researching your competitors, you can identify their strengths and weaknesses and find opportunities to differentiate your business, stand out, and offer something truly distinctive.
  • Avoid Doing What’s Been Done – What if you have a great idea for an ad, but your competitors have already run one like it? Simply knowing what your competitors are doing is a good way to make sure you don’t do something that’s already been done. By staying informed about your competitors’ marketing strategies, you can avoid duplicating their efforts and instead focus on innovative and original ideas that will capture the attention of your target audience. This prevents wasted resources and helps you maintain a competitive edge.
  • Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses – You may have an intuitive sense of your business’s strengths and weaknesses. But you can never truly know unless you compare these strengths and weaknesses to those of others. By analyzing your competitors, you can gain a deeper understanding of your business’s position in the market. You can identify areas where you excel and leverage those strengths to your advantage. Additionally, you can identify areas where your competitors outperform you and devise strategies to improve upon them. This self-awareness will help you refine your business strategy and improve overall performance.
  • Identify Opportunities – If you know what your competition is (and isn’t) doing, you can find gaps where they’re not meeting the needs of the market. These gaps present perfect opportunities for you to fulfill a need. For example, there may be one segment of your market that your competitors ignore. By recognizing this gap, you can tailor your products or services to cater specifically to that segment and dominate the market. By keeping a close eye on your competitors, you can identify unexplored opportunities and capitalize on them, gaining a competitive advantage.
  • Steal Ideas – Okay, maybe we should say something more like, “Borrow and modify ideas” or, even better, “Learn from your competitors’ mistakes.” By closely observing your competitors, you can observe their successes and failures, and analyze them for valuable insights. If a competitor’s new product fails, you can examine why it didn’t resonate with the market and improve upon it in your own offerings. If they ran an ad for only a brief period of time and then stopped, it’s an indication that the ad or the location didn’t pay off. This information allows you to learn from their experiences and make better-informed decisions for your own business.

No business is an island. You need to know what your competition is up to so that you understand what’s going on in your market. This can alert you to new trends, developments in your industry, the market’s changing tastes, and more. By staying informed, you can adapt your strategies accordingly and stay ahead of the curve.

Competitive research is a crucial aspect of business success. It provides valuable insights into your competitors.

Competitive research goes beyond just knowing what your competitors are doing at a surface level. It involves a deeper analysis and understanding of their strategies, strengths, weaknesses, and market positioning. Here are some additional points to consider:

  1. Pricing and Positioning: By studying your competitors’ pricing strategies, you can gain insights into the market’s price points and determine whether you are offering competitive prices or if adjustments are needed. Additionally, understanding how your competitors position their products or services in the market can help you identify gaps or areas where you can differentiate yourself.
  2. Target Audience: Analyzing your competitors can provide valuable information about their target audience. This knowledge can help you refine your own target market and tailor your marketing messages to reach and resonate with the right customers. You can also identify underserved or overlooked customer segments that present growth opportunities for your business.
  3. Marketing and Advertising: Examining your competitors’ marketing and advertising efforts can give you ideas for effective strategies and tactics. You can learn from their successes and failures, identify the channels they use, and assess the messaging and creative elements that resonate with customers. This information can guide your own marketing campaigns and help you stand out in a crowded marketplace.
  4. Distribution Channels: Understanding how your competitors distribute their products or services can help you identify potential partnership opportunities or alternative channels that are untapped. It can also provide insights into the efficiency and effectiveness of different distribution methods, allowing you to optimize your own distribution strategy.
  5. Industry Trends and Innovations: Keeping an eye on your competitors allows you to stay informed about the latest trends, technological advancements, and industry innovations. This knowledge can help you identify emerging opportunities or potential disruptions that may impact your business. By staying proactive and adaptable, you can position your business to capitalize on trends or mitigate potential threats.
  6. Customer Feedback and Reputation: Monitoring your competitors’ customer reviews, ratings, and feedback can provide valuable insights into their strengths and weaknesses from a customer perspective. This information can guide your own efforts to enhance customer satisfaction and address any gaps or pain points that customers may be experiencing.
  7. Partnerships and Collaborations: Researching your competitors can help you identify potential partnership opportunities or collaborative initiatives within your industry. By understanding who your competitors are collaborating with, you can explore similar partnerships or seek out complementary businesses to expand your reach and offerings.

Remember, competitive research is an ongoing process. The business landscape is constantly evolving, and your competitors are likely to adapt their strategies as well. Regularly monitoring and analyzing your competitors will help you stay agile and make informed decisions to stay ahead in the market.

As a pre-startup, startup, or early growth entrepreneur, leveraging competitive research can provide you with valuable insights and a competitive edge as you navigate the challenges and opportunities of building and scaling your business.

Check out Consulting by Terry at


Terry H. Hill is an accomplished author and visionary entrepreneur who leverages his extensive expertise to drive business growth as a trusted advisor, coach, consultant, courseware developer, educator, trainer, mentor, and strategist. With an impressive track record over four decades, Hill has been at the forefront of business development, entrepreneurship, and leadership.

Leave a Reply