In today’s episode of the podcast, I’m going to be giving you my top three competitor research tips.

If you’ve been thinking that you may need to look into some of your competitors, keep an eye on the competition and see what’s going on, then this is going to be a great episode for you.

I think my advice might be a little bit unexpected as well…

Here for the links referenced in the show notes? 

Fast-Track Your Start-Up:

Let’s dive on in!

Competitor research is not something I would generally be talking about. I don’t have other podcast episodes about competitor research, and the reason being is that I don’t really do competitor research myself.

Ever since I started my business, I’ve never really looked to other people to see what they’re doing or understand how they’re speaking about something in order to assist me.

I’m not focusing on other peoples’ numbers or models.

That’s been a pretty considered decision on my part, because I know I’m a sponge when it comes to taking in information, research, ideas and concepts. Often I forget where I found those things, so then if I want to talk about that, I have to go and find where I saw it, and try and reference it.

I also tend to be a hyper-competitive person.

I found when I first started my business, I was comparing the beginning of my business journey to someone else’s middle or someone else’s end. A lot of what I was seeing was only the picture-perfect piece that was presented, rather than necessarily seeing the full picture of what was going on in that person’s business.

I specifically remember a particular realisation for me when I was about six months into my business and just about to launch the first-ever round of the Take Off program.

I was in a program with another entrepreneur who had just done her first ever launch. She’d been on the scene for about two months, and she was sharing this story about how she’d had a six-figure launch of her group program in the first two months of starting her business.

It was really inspiring and exciting, but I also started to compare my launch to her’s.

I’d been in business longer, and I was thinking about how I’d had a lot more clients and had a bigger list than her before my launch. I was starting to feel like I had to hit those figures even when it wasn’t my goal (which led me to believe that I had money and mindset blocks). It created many spirals that weren’t particularly helpful for my business.

I then had my launch of the Take Off program. It was about a $4,000 launch (so nowhere near her six-figure launch) and I started to get really down on myself.

I noticed that whenever a post of hers would appear in this group, I would look at it and I’d study what she’d done and I’d ask questions, and I started to get a little too caught up in wondering what the difference was between me and her.

Around then, I was having a conversation with a business bestie who was in a mastermind with her (it was a $25,000 mastermind to join and I did not have the money to join that kind of mastermind, and there was no way I was going to be investing at that level at that stage of business).

In that conversation with this person, they told me that not all is as it seems. They told me how:

1. This lady spent more on Facebook ads than she made

2. She had already made over a million dollars through her Amway business

3. While she didn’t have a mailing list and was saying that she was two months into her business and had started with zero people on her mailing list, she had over 50,000 followers on her Facebook page through her other business

You’re not comparing apples with apples.

Even though I’d been giving that advice to my own clients and telling them not to worry about what others were doing, to just focus on their own business because they don’t need a lot of people, they can get high conversion without having thousands of followers, I still got caught up in it because of the picture of it being her first-ever launch two months in with zero lists. I felt like there was clearly something in that.

But there was a lot of information that was missing from that picture-perfect image that was being presented on social media.

That was really my first and last wake up call for paying attention to other people’s results.

I never went down that rabbit hole again.

I’m so grateful for that experience, and I’m so glad I learned that lesson early. It was so clear to me how I had gotten caught up, and my mindset wobbles had taken over.

With all of that in mind, there are some times where you need to do some competitor research or it is going to be of benefit to your business to do it.

I want to give you my top three tips for competitor research… BUT I’m not going to talk about what to look for and what research to do. I think there are much more helpful ways that you can go and find that. It really does depend on your business model, your type of business, and what kind of information you’re looking for though.

Before you embark on any competitor research, I want to give you my top three tips, and then I’ll talk about a couple of ways that you can do it.

1. Beware

Before you embark on competitor research, remember that the image that’s being presented is curated.

You will not get access to all of the unadulterated information and raw data behind the scenes. It can be triggering for you in terms of comparison-itis and feeling despondent or worried that you’re not performing at a certain level that you think you need to be achieving at this particular stage in your business.

Just make sure you have some mindset support, someone to talk to, a practitioner that you work with, or a practice where you can pay attention to the thoughts and feelings that it’s bringing up, and discern between what is important competitor research, and what actually is not helpful and is just getting in the way of you moving forward and focusing on your business.

That’s the first of my competitor research tips – just beware before embarking upon competitor research.

2. Get clear on what and why first

What is the competitor research strategy? What data are you looking at? Why are you looking at that data?

Let’s say you decide you need some help with your content planning and making sure you’re speaking to the right messaging and helping people in your market. A really common research strategy that I see recommended quite a lot is the three-star review research strategy.

You go and look at books on your topic area, and look for those three-star reviews.

The reason being that one-star reviews are haters, five-star reviews are lifelong fans, and three-star reviews will often take the time to explain why they’re giving a three-star review.

If you go and look at some of those three-star reviews and look at where people are saying, ‘I liked that it did this, but what’s missing for me is that’, that gives you really juicy information about what topics and content your audience is looking for from you.

Yes, that is a competitor research strategy you could use, but be clear on what you’re looking for and why first, and then just focus on that.

Don’t go down the rabbit hole.

If you’re doing three-star reviews, don’t go down the rabbit hole of deciding that you’re going to write a book when that wasn’t the reason why you are going there in the first place. Don’t go down the rabbit hole of then checking out their social media and seeing how many sales they’ve made.

Just be really clear on what you’re researching, what data you need to collect and why before you embark upon it.

Another great example would be looking at a competitor and what keywords are working best on their website or what topic areas are working best on their YouTube channel. If you’re doing keyword research and you want to look at competitors who already have an audience or have a following all those sorts of things, again, just get really clear on the what and the why first.

Be really clear on what the purpose of that research is.

If you are wanting to just see what keywords they’re using, then be mindful of not going in and writing down direct copies of their titles – that would be crossing the line and that wasn’t why you were there in the first place.

Find ways to make sure that you’re clear on what the purpose is, and also then what data you need in order to fulfil that purpose and ONLY that purpose.

Don’t allow yourself to be drawn into the rabbit hole.

That leads me into the third of my competitor research tips, which is…

3. Put some boundaries in around competitor research

If I were to embark upon competitor research (which I won’t because I’m not interested), I would do it by writing down what the project is, why I’m looking for that data and what the data is that I’m looking for, and then I would decide on how long I wanted to spend researching that and set a timer. If I wanted to research for 90 minutes, I’d set my timer for 90 minutes and research until the alarm goes off and then I’d be done. No more competitor research. I will not follow the people, I will not copy anything, I will just set the boundaries and research what I set out to research.

Be really clear on what the data is, why you’re looking for it and how long you’re going to give to that task.

Maybe even set yourself up a template – something where you can fill it in with what you find – and that’s the only information that you collect so that you have boundaries up around that competitor research in particular.

Those are my top three competitor research tips:

1. Beware

2. Be clear

3. Boundaries

The three B’s of competitor research.

Before I dive into how I can help you if you are looking to get your business growing by being your unique self and not necessarily getting caught up in needing to look at other people’s work, I do want to talk about some of the ways that you can do some competitor research, because I do want to give you some practical advice.

As I said, there are other people that you can check out who give way more detailed advice and instructions on competitor research because that’s something that they do consistently or help other people to do.

Personally, I don’t see it as a necessity. I know that it triggers a lot of stuff in me and I don’t necessarily want to go down that pathway again, so I don’t think it is something that I need to do in order to be able to grow my business, reach my audience, talk to my audience and create content for my audience.

competitor research tips notepad for research business start-up

One of my competitor research tips is to instead do client research.

My alternative to competitor research is client research.

Where someone might go out and look for keywords and keyphrases that their competitors are using, I just go and ask my ideal clients.

I go and talk to people who are already following me, or who are my potential ideal clients that are in an existing community.

I will:

  • Ask some questions in Facebook groups
  • Ask questions on my Facebook page
  • Use Instagram stories to do some surveying
  • Send a SPEAR email to my full list – Short, Personal, Expect A Response – where I’ll ask what the number one challenge they’re having with finding new clients online is, and I’ll note those responses down

The information that comes through in all those options is way more valuable to me than looking at what my competitor is trying to talk about.

You just end up sounding like everyone else anyway.

That would be my alternative.

But if there were some things that you could glean from competitor research (or what to look for in competitors), it would be things like:

  • What keywords are they optimising for?
  • What hashtags are they using on Instagram? For example, are there some hashtags that are used by people serving your audience? I don’t use hashtags, but that might be somewhere that would be worth researching.

The three-star review is a good one.

Another one is looking at competitors that you want to differentiate from.

Something that I have seen taught as a strategy (I haven’t necessarily embarked upon this myself because I have plenty of fodder without looking for it) is to go and look at the content of people who you disagree with about how they support your audience.

Let’s say you are in the health and wellbeing space and you focus on anti-diets rather than diet culture. Go and look at some people who are sharing diet-based advice. Don’t necessarily say why you disagree with this person, but just look for the pieces of advice that you passionately disagree with. That can make great content.

You could create content about why you don’t like the ketogenic diet, or why keto isn’t a lifestyle, it’s a diet, and why you don’t pay attention to things like that.

You’re taking a stand for your audience.

An example for me would be going and actively seeking out competitors who teach non-consent marketing strategies in my industry (so manufactured urgency, manufactured scarcity, the bait and switch methodology, click-baiting, etc), and I would look at what types of things they say and do, and what the strategies that they recommend that I disagree with are. Then I would create a podcast episode on why I don’t think tripwires are a smart move for your business, or what the consent-based issue with tripwires is.

You can see that it’s not necessarily calling out that person – it’s not in any way, shape or form linking that piece of content to them. All it is is just saying that you see this practice being taught, you disagree with it for reasons that you explain, and then you present your alternative strategy.

That could be some of the competitor research that you would engage in, and I can see why you’d want to do that.

Personally, I get enough fodder just from what people are telling me in my community and what I see without even looking for it.

I’ve got plenty to go on with and plenty of things to get ranty about, but ultimately, if competitor research is something that you want to embark upon in your business, you’ve got some things to note down and be aware of beforehand, and there are some things that you can go and play with.

Hopefully, you’ve found that helpful.

The final thing I do want to say on this episode about my top competitor research tips is that I truly believe you don’t need to be looking at what other people do in order for you to be successful in the online space.

That being said, you need some kind of framework through which to know what it is that you need to decide, articulate and start doing in order for your business to start growing as quickly as possible.

To help you with that, I actually have a free resource.

It’s a training called Fast Track Your Startup.

In that, I give you that framework.

You can gain access to that free training by CLICKING HERE.

As always, if you’ve got any questions or have had a lightbulb moment as a result of my top three competitor research tips, come on over to the Heart-Centred Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs Facebook group, use #podcastaha, let me know you’ve been reading episode number 264 and we’ll continue the conversation over in the community.

Until next time, I cannot WAIT to see you SHINE.

Tash Corbin Business Mentor and Strategist