Competitor Analysis is the process of finding out who your industrial competitors are, evaluating their working and policies, and comparing them with yours so as to gain a strategical advantage. In a world of ever-growing cut-throat competition, analyzing competitors and their strategies is very important to gain a competitive advantage.
What is Competitor Analysis?
When you start out in an industry, it is most likely that there already are a bunch of firms dealing in similar products and services. These are your competitors, that is, organizations you are looking to acquire market share(1) from, and organizations that look to acquire your market share.
To be advantageous in this cut-throat competition, you need to strategically evaluate your competitors’ policies and conduct, analyze their marketing and advertising, maintain a proper brand distinction, and offer customers motive to choose your products over your competitors. Competitor Analysis comes after Industry Analysis, which establishes under which industry you will be working, what are its profitability prospects, and how to start out strong in the industry. You can read more about it here.
The Importance of Competitor Analysis
Competition is the whole reason behind rising specifics of Selling Costs(2), Research and Development, PR, and other indirect expenses and services. Under theoretical Monopoly there is no selling cost involved, except maybe the minimum required for informational promotions.
This suggests that not only the actual sales and profits, but every single aspect of a business is dependent on competition. For example, under a Monopolistic Competition(3) (the most popular form of competition) market like that of toothpaste, inherently the generic product being sold is toothpaste, yet it is extensive promotional methods that cause such a profitability distinction among different brands. Therefore greater level of competition is encouraged.
On the other hand, under Oligopoly(4) markets like cement, telecommunications, or smartphones, competitors often act in harmony because one brand’s decisions greatly affect another’s. For example the shift in taste towards touchscreen smartphones initiated by the release of the first iPhone led to its competitors being forced to shift their focus in manufacturing smartphones. Nokia failed to deliver primarily due to its internal struggle, leading to its infamous downfall.
How to find out who your competitors are (Industry Analysis)
As mentioned above, Competitor Analysis is a follow-up of Industry Analysis. Followed by it, competitors can be identified as businesses dealing in products and services that can be substituted for those offered by you so that they fulfill a particular demand.
How to conduct Competitor Analysis (The Analysis Process)
To gain a competitive advantage, the first step is to list the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors across various fields of practices such as production, price, distribution, etc.
To follow, determine which competitor uses what techniques and strategies, rank competitors on the basis of profit reports, liquidity, solvency, and other survival/growth indicators.
This presents a ranking system showing advantages and disadvantages of routing through a particular process.
To do this you will need to profile your competitors. You will extract their theoretical market value and their products’, real or psychological. And then to gain an advantage you will need to offer superior value to the potential customer.
These days details of most of an organization’s functioning variables are transparently available on the internet. To follow, profile each or leading competitors in your industry based on their functioning variables like:
Things to keep in mind while analyzing competitors
One of the things to keep in mind while going about competitor analysis is potential competition. This includes potential new competitors/startups or other businesses looking to expand. Calculation of this is primarily done by calculating growth rate of number of businesses in a particular market based on the market’s past.
While evaluation is based mainly on past functioning, market is a very dynamic environment, therefore another factor be consider is the ever-changing competitor policies and market preference. To rapidly adapt and compensate to change is very important when it comes to maintaining a competitive advantage.
We can help!
Symphysis offers marketing consulting for businesses of all sizes. With the right analytics and targeting process we will give you a competitive advantage that attracts your target audience. For more information call or text @ +1 (425) 390-4738.
Identifying and carefully implementing your targeted marketing strategy is one of the most important success factors for any business. This article takes a brief look at the concept of Targeted Marketing, describes the targeted marketing process, and provides tips on finding your ideal market.
What is Targeted Marketing?
Targeted Marketing refers to aiming marketing efforts at a specific audience by using marketing mix,(1) resources, and budget. It is advertising and promoting your product or service to a particular and predefined set of customers, who are the most likely to purchase the product. In other words, targeted marketing aims at limiting the number of people you advertise your product to so that the promotion reaches the demographic which is most likely to purchase the product with minimal cost.
Targeted Marketing is especially useful for small businesses. Various strategies and variables are involved in targeting, such as age and gender, geographical location, season and weather, consumer’s preferences, etc. Targeting also largely depends on the product itself. For example, a product of women’s winter clothing will be advertised in winter or in the pre-winter season in a place where potential female viewers are likely to see it.
Check out the AMA definition of Targeted Marketing Here.
The Targeted Marketing Process: STP (Segmentation, Targeting, Positioning).
Segmentation is the process of dividing the potential market as a whole on identified bases so that the business can select the most profitable segment to advertise to. For example, in our previous example of women’s winter clothing, let’s say we divide the market in two segments on the basis of income. Now, if we are manufacturing expensive clothes, we will be targeting our advertisements to women with greater income levels, and vice-versa.
It is important to identify the ‘basis’ beforehand, which must be something most relevant to the organization’s long-term goals such that profit maximization is possible. For example, for an organization looking to expand its area of operations, it would be beneficial to go for a geographically-based segmentation. That is figuring out where the highest number of potential customers reside and then expanding the business accordingly toward that area.
Targeting is the process of actually making the decision as to which identified segments the product should be marketed to. A business must take in consideration various factors like distance, budget, ROI(2), etc. and decide which segment maximizes the profits and other gains, such as goodwill creation at minimal cost.
A promotional and advertisement campaign is only successful if it resonates with the audience. Positioning emphasizes exactly on that, involving decisions and steps to follow that describe how the campaign is presented to the target audience. In other words, positioning is the actual placement of the marketing campaign in front of the segmented, targeted audience.
Online Targeted Marketing
Online targeted marketing is becoming increasingly popular due to its convenience and larger demographic coverage, which compliments the parallel increase in shipment-based selling like home delivery and online sales.
Online targeted marketing is carried out through various popular websites that present a referral link from where your product can be purchased. It justifies the ‘targeted’ aspect as the advertisement is directed towards the website users who actively show interest either in ways that suggest that they are prone to purchase or are at least interested in such products or services in a general way. For example, a user who visits a page titled ‘Cool Tattoos’ on Facebook may receive an advertisement for a nearby Tattoo place, based on whether they have opted to show location (in which way another segmentation strategy, ‘geographic segmentation’ is availed, and strengthened the possibility of the advertisement showing up). However websites do not publicly reveal their exact targeting algorithms, since that way it would be easily exploitable.
Another type of online targeted marketing is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your own website to generate an organic customer base. By posting relevant content on your website you can improve your search ranking. Which is the position your website’s content is displayed when someone makes a search content relating to content on your website. You can read more about Search Engine Optimization here.
And finally, the most successful and free approach to generating organic customers is social media presence and activity. Operating pages under your brand name and posting relevant and relatable content of value for the potential customer is another way of building goodwill for your firm. Simply generating advertisements isn’t marketing. It consists of various other variables like Product, Price, Place, and Promotion(1). Advertisement is merely one of the marketing strategies under promotion. This is especially important for startups looking to acquire a share in an already competitive market. You can read more about Startup marketing here.
How to find your ideal market (conclusion)
Targeted Marketing involves a lot of planning and strategizing. It is impossible to launch a successful marketing campaign without necessary, in-depth market research beforehand. Looking at consumer trends and strategies adopted by rival firms, and then forming a segmentation strategy is helpful. After such trend analysis, you should select the segment which is most lucrative and has potential of shifting brands to yours, which offers them some superior, psychological or real value.
We can help!
Symphysis believes in marketing from the ground up. With our team of dedicated experts we can help in locating your ideal market, segmentation, search engine optimization, and create your own successful brand. For more information call or text @+1 (425) 390-4738 for a free initial consultation.
Definition and Importance of Advertisement
Advertisement is a part of the promotion mix(1), along with variables such as PR or Personal Selling (Door-to-door selling), which aims at informing customers and inducing potential customers to purchase a firm’s products or services. It is impersonal and constitutes an identified sponsor. In other words, it’s a brief presentation of the appealing characteristics of your product or service, to inform general or specific public about the availability of your product.
Advertisement is an essential strategy to follow in today’s extensively competitive markets. The main difference that convinces someone to choose a particular brand over another, especially for startups, is creating a product of superior value (psychological or real) for the customer. Advertisement aims at both of these aspects, by informing the customer about the product’s actual superior value, and attempting to resonate in their minds with a catchy and indulging presentation. You can read more about startup marketing here.
Various Types/Methods of Advertisement Media
The most common and effective advertisement media are:
The most popular method of advertisement is Physical media, such as newspapers, pamphlets, and brochure distribution (Print media). As well as billboards, vehicle advertisement/vehicle graphics, and digital billboards (Outdoor advertisement). Physical media is suitable when the area of distribution is limited but the product has rather generic use, so that each person who stumbles across the advertisement is a potential customer. These are widely used by local businesses. However, these are adopted by larger companies to convey such generic products, primarily because it often leaves a long-term effect in the viewer’s mind due to its physical nature.
Different types of Physical Media are-
Digital media has become the most convenient, effective, and profitable method of advertisement in the modern age due to its never-ending growth of customers. There are various methods to do this, such as running ads on social media like Facebook or Twitter, direct emailing (subscription based), posting relevant content on your website (such as blog or vlogs), and attracting SEO(2) based customers, etc. The dynamics of digital media are ever-evolving with altering algorithms and updates. However the major player for a successful advertising campaign to be retained is its relativity to the target audience. The campaign must maintain relevance and evolve alongside its target audience. Marketing itself is all about keeping up with the dynamics. Developing a good social media community is also an effective and necessary digital marketing method to build a strong, organic customer base.
Another popular and effective way of advertising is broadcast media. This primarily includes radio and television. Relevance is of the utmost importance in broadcast media. For example, you see toys being advertised on children’s channels mainly and not on news channels. Similarly, sports gear is advertised on sports channels. This presents the concept of Targeted Marketing(3) and its importance in a clearer sense.
How to target your ideal audience (Targeted Marketing)
For a detailed article on Targeted marketing click here
The most common and important question about Advertising following "How to market" is "who to market to." Advertisements on Billboards and Flyers do not have a specific targeted audience, everyone sees those advertisements and hence they are mostly used for everyday products such as grocery or technological products.
However that is not commonly the case with businesses and Startups. The product/service offered may be of any specific usage for specific audience or even a niche product with a small audience. It is preferable to identify the potential customers who are likely to buy the product and advertise primarily to those consumers to increase return on investment. For example, pet supplies to people with pets or toys to children.
This is where targeted marketing comes into play. It is the process of identifying the demographic most likely to purchase your product and advertising primarily to them. For example since kids are most likely to demand for toys, ideally ads for toys are mostly run on kids' TV channels. However nowadays the most effective Targeted marketing tool has become social media like Facebook and Instagram. By choosing to show your ads to people following specific interests, social media sites makes it way more convenient and cheaper to target your potential customer base.
We have mentioned in the previous articles from our "Marketing How To" series that marketing strategies are almost always dynamic, subjective, and need to be targeted. A non-targeted marketing plan, except for generic products, is inevitably destined to fail. To understand advertisement you first need to understand your specific market's needs and wants.
We Can Help!
Symphysis offers marketing consulting for businesses of all sizes. With the right analytics and targeting process, we can help develop a brand persona that attracts your target audience. For more information call or text @ +1 (425) 390-4738
How to Market to your Ideal Audience (Targeted Marketing)
How to research about and start strong in your ideal industry (Industry Analysis)
How to gain a competitive advantage in your industry (Competitor Analysis)
How to gain a distinguished Brand Identity
The Basics of Search Engine Optimization
The Importance and Essentials of Startup Marketing
When every market form seems to have taken a cut-throat form of competition, marketing for a startup is more hectic and trickier than ever. This brief article outlines the importance of startup marketing, as well as tips on how to start a successful marketing plan.
The following queries are tackled in this article.
The importance of Startup marketing.
To establish your brand in a competitive market, brand recognition is an absolute necessity. While the product itself is a huge factor in this, a catchy and relevant brand name is the only way to gain recognition for such a product. This eventually leads to generation of the most important marketing tool for a startup: Word-of-Mouth Marketing. You can read more about branding here.
As a startup, the prospect of earning profits is more important than actually earning profits. Brand is not something you create but something you gain, by product differentiation and offering superior value to the potential customer. From now on, this article will assume the product created is of superior value to the potential customer than those already available.
Now that our valuable product or service has been finalized and ready to be launched, we will take a look at the essential strategies for Startup marketing.
The essential strategies of Startup marketing.
Choosing a specific market for targeted launch of your product is a very effective marketing strategy for a startup. Even if the product is meant for popular and generic usage, targeted launch is still preferred because it generates credible word-of-mouth marketing from those who regularly use the product/service. It is essentially identifying what market and what segment of the market has the most potential for purchasing your product, then advertising to that part of the market specifically.
Comparative presentation of yourself is basically calling your brand or your market inferior to another. For example, you (XYZ, an accounting firm) aren’t the Microsoft of accounting. You are XYZ. This painfully pervasive tactic appears amateur and doesn't produce long-term results, especially for startups.
Aggressive Selling (focusing on immediate sales by advertisement rather than building up a customer base) can only work for a short-term firm constituted for a particular project. It is a huge obstacle for a firm looking to acquire market share from an established market.
Customer Engagement, on the other hand, is an essential. As is evident by the ever growing need of a good Customer Support, engagement and reliability on the organization from the customer’s side helps build the brand. Occasionally this works faster than any other marketing method.
By offering Quality Products/Services, Customer Engagement, and acquiring brand recognition, a brand builds itself. But not by aggressive brand-forcing, trademarking, advertisement, etc. A lot of failed startups make the mistake of focusing on Brand Establishment and not Brand Recognition. A brand is built once a strong, satisfied customer base has been built.
An extension to the previous point, word-of-mouth marketing is perhaps the most important marketing strategy for a startup. A satisfied customer has a habit of recommending products and services or running independent forums and discussions about the product/service, etc. The main focus should be for the firm and its product to be of some superior value to the potential customer.
Establishing a good network among your market and competition is another essential. It is basically a means of recognition in the sellers’ side of the market. This can be accomplished by attending workshops, meetups, and other networking events and joining forums on various websites like Facebook and Reddit.
Do not waste money on trademarking/advertisement as a startup without proper budgeting. It is very popular among failed startups to spend thousands of dollars on unsuccessful, compulsive, and aggressive marketing. Instead, invest on methods that work best for your market following the very important market research.
An extension to point one, having all the relevant, well-researched data expressed in quantitative terms is a requirement for effective startup marketing. This is often overlooked or disorganized, leading to great losses and even complete failures for startups.
Not all of these marketing tips will work for your startup. The concept of startup marketing is a dynamic, conditional, and subjective one with variables running from 0 to 100 every day based on trends and customer behavior. Therefore, if a particular method does not work for you, pivoting and redirecting efforts is the only option to stay current and moving forward.
At its core, Startup marketing is about customer satisfaction. We have not mentioned the obvious tips like ‘advertise’ since it is the base, hidden variables that run those surface tactics. The most important things are to understand the dynamics of your market identify your target audience. Change is the only thing that is constant, so continue researching your target demographics and pivot when necessary to continue offering valuable products.
Making a startup successful is difficult and time consuming. In fact, most startups never even report profit or success. The path of entrepreneurship is all about facing and beating challenges so do not let the failure stories discourage you. Once you understand what works for your specific market, marketing becomes easier to manage.
We Can Help!
Symphysis specializes in market structure and strategy. Every day we meet clients from around Greater Seattle for one-on-one training and consultation. Our marketing services extend to businesses of all sizes, family and enterprise. For more information, call or text @ +1 (425) 390-4738.
In a society where markets are driven primarily by customer convenience and online discoverability, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an important brick in building a successful brand and driving traffic to your website. This brief article from our "Marketing How To" series takes a beginner’s in-depth look at the basics of SEO and tips on how you can you use it most to your own advantage.
The following queries are tackled in this article.
What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?
When you post content online, the main objective for the post is to make it discoverable to your target audience. There are two primary ways to do that. The first way is advertisement: paying websites with decent traffic to drive their users to your content. But the obvious flaws with this tactic is the audience attracted is often temporary and new startups and small businesses or organizations cannot invest a great deal in such advertisement.
The second and more effective way of generating long-term organic audience for your content is Search Engine Optimization (SEO.) Search Engine Optimization is the process of customizing your website to appeal to search engines. This can be accomplished by having relevant keywords to the topic of your site, a layout that Google (or another search engine) thinks is organized, and fast load speed. Google wants to show it's customers the best and fastest results that relate to their search queries. When someone does a generic or specific search on Google relating to the topics on your website, your pages with relevant content show up higher in search results. Generally, people will click on the first result they see, therefore increasing the traffic on your website.
How is SEO an integral marketing strategy?
In a dynamic online marketing environment, discoverability is one of the most important factors to staying ahead of the competitors. During a time of home delivery and on-call services, customer convenience is very important. Search Engine Optimization targets that precisely, along with building goodwill(1) for your brand, by attracting more and more people to your website. By increasing organic visits to your website, SEO ensures a dynamic buying cycle(2) for the products and services offered.
Black Hat vs White Hat SEO.
Black Hat SEO refers to the techniques and hacks for generating short-term audience for your website. These techniques include keyword stuffing (Including repetitive chosen keywords in your content), content scraping (Republishing your RSS links to different sites for backlink generation), comment spams (on different comment-enabled websites with links backing to your own website), cloaking (Showing different content to visitors and search engines), etc. Search engines bots, such as Google Crawler(3) do not appreciate Black Hat SEO methods, and upon identification, websites using them can be penalized or even banned.
White Hat SEO, on the other hand, emphasizes primarily on the content of your website. Methods such as better UI (User Interface), Keyword Research and Optimization, Speeding up the load time, and attracting backlinks from reputable websites are the main methods of white-hat SEO. Contrary to Black Hat SEO, it is a long-term marketing tool which focuses on generating organic audience and building an organization’s goodwill.
On Page vs Off Page SEO.
On Page SEO is essentially optimization based on what is actually on your webpages. This is altering and modifying the content on your website to increase discoverability. A simple SEO checklist for On Page SEO is:
The contents of the page should be relevant to the desired search results. Relevant content increases the chances of appearing in organic search results and reduces bounce rate(4).
The content should be inclusive of various relevant keywords (the actual words that users type in search engines) with a recommended ratio of 2-5:100 words. These words/phrases should be mentioned at least a few times in the content. Although it must be made sure that these are not spammed.
Behind every page there is coding and structure, with important factors such as Title Tags, Heading Tags, and Meta Data. Title Tag is the clickable link that shows up on the ‘Search results’ page of a search engine. Heading Tags are the particular heads of the page (for example ‘Black Hat vs White Hat SEO’, ‘What NOT to do’, etc. headings in this article). Metadata is the part of code that describes other parts of the code.
Off Page SEO is basically your online reputation based on other relevant websites. It is a long-term optimization method. There are no direct alterations to the content of your website involved. Our simple SEO checklist for Off Page SEO is:
Social activity is increasingly becoming an important factor for SEO. Google Crawler checks all relevant sources eventually backlinking to your main content. And although its exact algorithm is unknown, various trial-and-error experiments have shown significant direct impact of social media popularity and search engine ranking.
Acquiring backlinks from reputable and relevant websites for your content is the most important Off-page SEO factor. Links between websites create a web that search engine crawlers can follow to determine the quality and relevance of websites within the web. Bots like Google Crawler recognize both quality and quantity of backlinks.
Guest blogging is an effective way of getting
backlinks from popular websites. As a guest blogger, you submit blogs to other
more popular and relevant websites with backlinks to your own content. Upon
acceptance, such blogs and content creates a decent backlink base for search
SEO Backlinks and the Credibility Spam
Backlinks are off-site links pointing at your website. They play a significant role in Search Engine Optimization. Due to the popular misuse of such backlinks, search bots have become highly vigilant in identifying spam (such as Tiered Backlinking(5)). That means backlinking from your own secondary WordPress or Wix or any other suspected spam sites does little to harvest organic audience. On the other hand, backlinking from more popular and credible sites helps way more in increasing search ranking.
SEO Tips for Increasing Ranking and Discoverability.
What NOT to do.
I have mentioned it before and would again, don't get banned trying to gain search priority. Spamming of any kind could easily be detected by search bots and will penalize your whole site. Tiered Backlinking was considered a hack to this, but Google’s algorithm is perpetually changing, and even that is an unsafe bet.
We Can help!
Search Engine Optimization can be a tricky concept to understand and even trickier to tackle. Symphysis maximizes the number of times you appear in organic search queries. Our SEO team begins by reducing loading time, improving image quality, removing leftover template code, implementing analytics, all while improving keyword ranking. For more information, call or text +1 (425) 390-4738.