Aristophanes once said, “The wise learn many things from their enemies.” The same sentiment holds true in the world of business; the greatest managers and business owners learn a significant amount from their competition. Through analysis, business owners have the opportunity to discover product or service pricing structures, marketing efforts including promotional periods, general knowledge of the product or service, and/or the professional networking with whom they affiliate. However, did you know that you can utilize your competitor to build links and a stronger online presence?
One of the keys to drive more targeted traffic to your site is to establish a rich content project. There are several industry blogs and/or social networking sites that publish niche-related material. In fact, there is around a 70% chance that your direct competitors are currently publishing blogs. Don’t think about this as direct competition for the blogging world or your niche business, but think about this as an opportunity to be even more of an authority within your industry. Here are some steps to take in order to create your online presence in the sense of a rich content provider:
- Research and collect as many industry-related and/or niche market blogs as feasible. You will want to include some of your direct competition as well as this will allow you to see what the competition knows and writes about.
- Select the best of the best content that you collect through RSS feeds. As a minor suggestion, I would start with 3 to 5 of the best posts.
- Write a content summary about each of those selected publications making sure that you site the original post/article. Include why the content was chosen, what you agree with in the post, and/or what you disagree with in the post.
- Ask for immediate feedback on the content you have provided. This will allow them to read through the content and maintain a relationship with your site.
A second means to using your competition to help your online presence is by way of developing a summary site. This becomes much easier if your direct competition is out there blogging and publishing articles, but it can also be done if non-direct competition is creating content as well. The key to becoming an authority with regard to a summary site is to be honest and expose your in depth knowledge of the subject matter. In other words, you will be providing summaries in three different ways:
- Daily Posts — Find various competitors that post quality content. Write a better-quality review (your personal commentary) and summary (professional and brief description) of their content and state why their article was chosen for your publication. Also include how their article will help your community. Remember, you are publishing to your audience so remind them that you are sharing information with them for their benefit.
- Weekly (or Monthly) Summaries — Track the topics of your competitors and conduct an in depth competition analysis based on their chosen topics. So, if you are in real estate and one of your direct competitors posts 27 out of 28 posts as foreclosure topics, write a professional critique of their specialization within the foreclosure area, but also include that they have yet to feature any information on other topics throughout the real estate field. Be very selective with which companies you critique and/or summarize and make sure that you maintain a professional role (do not let competition cloud your writing judgment).
- Theme Summaries — There are several times throughout every industry when a particular topic rises to the surface and takes everyone’s attention. Your competitors will publish articles about the topic, but you need to become the authority on the topic. So, create a post (or article) that showcases the top content about that particular topic and write a summary which includes your professional commentary with regard to those specific publications.
And finally, make sure that the posts that you create are leading your industry! Instead of following industry trends on topics, take the time to brainstorm unique topics and create trends. It comes down to you understanding your customer and analyzing your clientele behavior. Here are a few ideas to consider as you become the online presence that leads your industry:
- Publish Fresh Content — As mentioned above, take the time to outline difficult topics within your industry. These could potentially range from industry secrets to a frequently asked question. Highlight your knowledge within your market, and expand upon that knowledge by sharing it with your community. You will start to see a trend happen with your competitors (who do research you as well) posting similar topics and information.
- Host Community Events — This will have a great impact throughout your niche market (especially if you are a brick and mortar company). This will also start to establish your community reputation as the industry authority and the business to go to for hard questions or situations.
- Distribute Annual Awards — This is a great feature to implement within your niche market if you can feasibly do so! Create an online award for the best content for the industry, or another award for the most quality content produced, or perhaps an award for the most knowledge of a specific topic. Because you are creating these awards (and judging for that matter), you are displaying your knowledge of the industry and awarding your competition for helping you educate your target audience.
Overall, having competition is not necessarily terrible. If you are able to figure out ways to utilize your competition to build your reputation and online presence, you will start to readily welcome the added competition. Through ways like content aggregation, summary posts or articles, and leading your industry online there are countless ways to turn your competition’s work into a benefit for your company. After reading this post, you are (hopefully) able to move forward and take advantage of your competition to get a leg up in your niche market!