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The Importance of A Comprehensive Competitive Monitoring Strategy
Business is inherently a competitive field. Unless there is a unique and now almost unheard of monopoly in a specific sector, organizations and enterprises must consider that there is competition out there striving to take the top spot. Sure, competition has many different benefits. For example, it can drive the quality of a particular product or service higher as competitors work to become the best and the brightest in their fields. It can also create a price war in which the expense of these aforementioned services and products is actually driven down as a way to attract new or retain old clientele—a benefit to the consumer. Further, competition provides options and that is a beautiful thing as it also affords competing businesses to improve and be creative in their products and services. Yet, there is a downside to competition as well.
There are several reasons as to why competition can be a true killer to entrepreneurial endeavors, nonprofit organizations, and for profit endeavors. Competition can tear into the customer base of a business struggling to find or retain a space in the same sector. It can also create a contentious environment in which the bottom line and profits are impacted directly and indirectly by the tension in the market. Businesses that do succeed amidst competition, and those that want to, must take a proactive approach to monitor their closest business enemies and their largest competitor. With the advent of technology and the strong ties between business and modern methods of communication and marketing, the utilization of competitive monitoring in the business arena is a pretty understandable fit. But, to the layman or the large segment of the population that is unsure of the ways in which technology teams can help in promoting business through awareness of the opponent, competitive monitoring may be a relatively foreign term. Therefore, the following explains not only what this method of appropriate business oversight is but also how it can benefit a business. First, though, the importance of knowing your competition is highlighted so as to provide a foundation for why this approach is so critically important.
Why Monitor The Competition With Purpose?
Monitoring the competition is something that most businesses do on some level. Whether it is by picking up an advertisement or clicking on a Facebook page to peruse, it is likely that most entrepreneurs, business leaders, and organizational founders are at some level aware of whom they are battling against for market shares. Sometimes, it is even the customer themselves that highlights the successes and failures of another in the same economic sphere. But, being slightly aware of what is going on around a business without intently following the competition can leave an organization in a vulnerable strategic position. Competitive awareness and true competitive understanding are two very different things.
Competitors need to watch each other with purpose. A business needs to understand what the competition is doing very right and what they are doing very wrong. In the strengths that they see, they can better combat potential losses through altering sales or service strategies. In the competition’s weaknesses, they can find holes in which to capitalize to the potential profit and growth of their own business. Monitoring the competition, then, and where they are excelling and where they are struggling is an important part of building a stronger and more efficient business.
With that being said, a business cannot casually monitor those in the same economic sector as them. They have to dedicate resources, time, and energy into really focusing on an in-depth and constant analysis. This can be a highly involved and consuming process for a team that is not experienced in this type of work. From small businesses to large, monitoring with a purpose can understandably get lost in the fray of more pressing, day-to-day issues. With that being said, though, the business can greatly suffer from a lack of oversight in this arena. It is for this reason, then, that more and more individuals are turning to competitive monitoring service providers and teams in order to provide a comprehensive analysis of what is going on the economic sector around them.
What Is Competitive Monitoring?
Competitive monitoring in its most basic definition is the technologically based oversight of competitor businesses. Utilizing modern day technologies, this monitoring process involves a strategic plan in which the different factors of marketing, promotions, and rankings of competitors are analyzed. These analytics, however, do not happen in a vacuum. Rather, a comprehensive monitoring team will look at where these business rank in relation to a client’s business. This has many different benefits, as aforementioned, and can greatly improve the marketing plans, promotions, and approach of the business utilizing the services.
To simply say, though, that monitoring is a process that involves many different facets is to give almost too broad of an overview. Instead, it is important to understand the different aspects and services that combine in order to make that happen. The following, then, looks at several different monitoring aspects that will come from a quality competitive observing team.
What Services Are Provided?
There are several different services that competitive monitoring agencies will provide. From social media to advertisement awareness and more, these services play an individual and yet connected role in promoting the success of a business. While some agencies or service providers focus on one of the following, others take a more comprehensive approach.
1. Monitoring Social Media
Social media is a huge part of marketing campaigns at businesses in the modern world. From Twitter to Facebook to LinkedIn and more, these sites are serving as a connective tissue between the consumer or potential consumer and the business. Social media acts as a great source of potential clients, marketing, and—ultimately—dollars. But, just as with anything in business, it can be a highly competitive space.
Monitoring teams will analyze the different sites of competitors and where a particular client business is falling in the rankings. They can monitor advertisement placement on these sites as well as reviews. This helps to show where new avenues of promotion need to take place or highlight the strengths of a business in this realm. Because social media is such a highly profitable arena, it is important for those monitoring said space help to illuminate exactly where weaknesses and strengths are as it can ultimately lead to growth in profits.
Not only do monitoring teams focus on how things are focusing in social media and shaping up in relation to one another, but they also can focus on the individuals promoting a particular page. These groups, individuals, or powerful players in the social sphere are known as influencers and are more than just a typical social media fan. They are someone with established clout, large numbers of followers, or other power backing that makes them worthy of recognition. By knowing what influencers are talking about a client business, that employer can work to maintain the relationship with forethought and determination rather than never recognizing it all. The latter reaction to influencers can result in a changed relationship that can negatively impact the influencer-business relationship and, thus, avoid capitalizing on the potential.
Finally, a comprehensive monitoring strategy and service provider will track different aspects of social media as well, including hashtags. Hashtags are a popular and relatively common method of creating trends in the social world. A single hashtag can be talked about by millions in a viral sensation that leads to much discussion and, thus, the potential for much reward. If a business’s hashtag is trending or if they stay topical with their strategy, then, there is a notoriety that can greatly increase brand and service awareness.
2. SEO Monitoring
Another important part of monitoring team services comes in their efforts to stay aware of a business’s search engine optimization or SEO. Business SEO essentially, and its most basic form, means the business’s competency in achieving a higher rank in search engine return results. This is important because the higher a business falls in the returned results list, the more likely that those searching will click on the result link. A click may not equate to profit, but it assuredly increases the chances of this occurring in comparison to those that do not click.
SEO is determined by several different factors, facets, and algorithms. From keyword usage to web content, these different aspects come together and help to create the rankings and returned results that are so crucial to a business. To leave this stagnant or unmonitored will only lead to potential problems down the road.
Monitoring teams will look at this SEO ranking not in a vacuum. Rather they will look at the different aspects of the business’s SEO strategy in relation to other businesses. This helps to highlight not only where weaknesses may be in that particular business, but also where the strengths are in order to improve. A comparative analysis will provide more of an insight than a simple, one-pronged approach.
3. Advertisement Monitoring
Advertisement monitoring is another important aspect of monitoring services. Tracking both social media advertisements of competitors and other internet postings of services, promotions, and goods, can really draw customer basis to or away from a particular business. If a client’s competitors, for example, are all promoting at a particular time, this can help a business see when the best time to promote their own business is. If the advertisements are succeeding, they can look at where they were posted and why they worked. This helps to not only compete with these external businesses but also helps to demonstrate the trends of the consumer. Understanding the consumer or clientele is as important as understanding the business landscape itself. A comprehensive monitoring team, then, will look at these advertisements in a comparative way which can greatly help a client business.
Another aspect of a great monitoring company is the way in which they relay the results to the client and keep them aware of what is going on. A comprehensive competitive monitoring team will provide in-depth but easily digestible reports of information that are informative yet easily digested by the business. The beauty of this aspect is that a company that cannot afford to have a dedicated team, or those that have a dedicated team which needs help with monitoring, can get to the essential and vital information quickly. They do not have to wade through complicated and almost unreadable analytics report but are provided with something that gets to the point efficiently.
Further, comprehensive monitoring systems and teams will keep the client in the loop and reevaluate at a set time or at dedicated intervals. This means that there will not be a lapse in information but, rather, a constant reminder of what is occurring. The comparative analyses and reports can help to create a larger understanding of trends as well. If a business is continually faltering or if a competitor is continually improving, then, these trends can have a tremendous impact on the business itself. It is not something that should be ignored and these detailed and timely reports will provide that window into reality on a regular basis.
Who Should Use Monitoring?
The truth is that many businesses look at the expense of monitoring and comprehensive plans and wonder if the investment is worth it. The better question would be, is the business worth it? In truth, a large, growing, small, or startup business cannot really afford not to have some sort of monitoring occurring. In today’s technologically driven world, a month can change trends, digital marketing, and internet-based ebbs and flows. Because this impacts the bottom line and profitability, then, it is important that companies have a plan in place well before they need. While a good monitoring company can provide analytics on trends and recommendations on beating the competitors, they cannot turn back the hands of time. And, as any businessperson knows, time is money.