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In my previous tutorials, we covered the basics of competitive analysis for your business – no matter how small.

In this guide, we’ll dive deeper into understanding your competitor’s customers. You’ll find out what types of customers your small business competitors target, why they buy, and what needs they may not be met. Once you do this, you will be able to discover the following:

Know exactly what kind of customers your competitors attract, including different segments and characteristics. Find the customer segments your competitors miss. Identify common phrases customers use to describe their needs, your competitors, and the strengths of your competitors’ businesses.

As you use this guide to analyze your competition, continue to fill out the attachment we used from the previous tutorial. This helps you organize all the information you gather and will serve as a quick reference as you come up with your initial business plan or develop a more in-depth marketing strategy. Let’s get started:

How to learn more about your small business competitors (graphic source)

Your Small Business Competitors: Where to Find Their Customers

The tricky part about finding information about a competitor is that you can’t understand their business from the inside. Fortunately, there are many online tools that can help you get started with your competitor analysis. Here are some resources you can use to find useful information about your competitors’ customers:

1. Mass media

This is where most of your research is done. By looking at the media pages of your small business competitors, especially the most active networks, you’ll see how they interact with customers – at least online. Here’s what you need to consider:

Step 1 – Check their follower list

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow you to see a list of page followers. Going through this list can give you a general idea of ​​the characteristics of your competitors’ customers.

Watching: What is Competitor?

Step 2 – Read their reviews and visitor posts

Facebook Pages allow small businesses to get customer reviews. View a competitor’s Facebook page, click on their review and you’ll see star ratings and comments (see example below).

Example of a Facebook review page (source)

Some Facebook pages even allow “Visitor Posts”, where visitors to the site can leave a post that is publicly visible that is not a review or rating. Check to see if your competitors have these types of posts (see examples below) and review them to gauge customer sentiment and find frequently asked questions.

Examples of posts by Facebook page visitors (source)Step 3 – Search for media that have their own public posts

Do a quick search for the brand names of your small business competitors and you’ll see public posts about them. For Twitter, it’s better to use Twitter’s advanced search tool so you can find posts that mention your brand, limit your search to one location, and limit your search by date.

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You can also use a tool like Social Mention, which aggregates results from multiple sources, including photo sites, as well as Q&A sites like Quora and Reddit.

Step 4 – Analyze their use of Facebook ads

After doing some research, you’ll probably see your competitors’ ads on Facebook’s advertising section – if they buy ads. If so, you can easily collect the potential customers they target.

When you see an ad, it’s usually labeled “Sponsored” or “Suggested Post”, just like the example below. Click the down arrow to the right of the ad and select Why am I seeing this? A new window will pop up showing the exact audience for whom your competitors buy ads. This information may include age, gender, location, and interests.

Facebook ad objective example (source)

2. Review sites

In addition to Facebook comments, business review sites like Yelp can help you gather information about how customers feel about your competitors’ products. This is useful competitor analysis. In addition, for competitors with booths, you can also check their reviews on Foursquare.

If they have an online store, check to see if the store contains reviews and comments. Etsy stores also have public rating and review system that you can browse to learn more about their customers, and how they feel about your competitors. Here’s a screenshot showing you an example of where you can find reviews in an Etsy store:

Example of how to find competitor reviews on an Etsy site (source)

If you are selling services, you can look at online marketplaces for those services and find reviews of similar service providers. For example, if you want to provide imaging services, look for similar providers in Envato Studio. A quick search for “images” will give you different vendors. Clicking on their profile will allow you to see their customer reviews and comments.

Find competitors for illustration services on Envato Studio.

3. Blog

Do a quick Google search to see if the bogs already reflect your competitors’ products and services. Some businesses, no matter how small, are inevitably judged by bloggers. This is especially true if they offer free samples of products for bloggers to review. If your competitors have these types of reviews, you can use them for research.

Who buys your competitor’s products

?When you use all of the above sources, observe the following details about your small business competitor’s customers and note Add them to your list:

1. Customer characteristics

Keep that in mind when you look at your competitor’s media followers and product reviewers. What is their common age? Sex? Location? You don’t have to do a full quantitative analysis, but if you see general trends, make a note.

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2. Occupation and income

What do your competitors’ customers do? Even if knowing their exact job might not be relevant to your business, it’s still better to have a general idea of ​​their profession. Are they students, stay-at-home parents, entrepreneurs, business people or licensed professionals?

While there are products and services that appeal to many different types of industries, you could be wrong to overlook the potential connection between the profession of your target client and your business. For example, if you offer cleaning services to “busy people”, you must identify why they might consider themselves “busy” so that you can deliver special messages to them. meet their needs.

As for their income, this is an important point to note as it also reflects their spending power. You can be very specific with income levels and cite figures if you think it’s necessary. However, identifying low, medium or high income customer segments will give you this information.

Note: You can also leverage these same types of information to begin developing your buyer persona research:

3. Age of life

For many products and services, the customer must be within a specific stage of their life or occupation. If a small business hosts small wedding ceremonies, its customers are engaged people who are planning a wedding.

If someone offers profile optimization, their customers are more likely to be either those entering the job market for the first time, or switching jobs or entering the labor market after a long break. . As you conduct your research, ask yourself the question: “What stage of life should people interested in this competitor’s business be in?”

4. What customers like and don’t like

You’ll get a better idea of ​​your competitors’ relationship with their customers if you learn about their strong feelings about that company – whether it’s positive or negative. The best way to find out is through their reviews, comments and mentions in the media and review sites. You can also find blogs on Google that may have reviews of their products (e.g. search for a term you might use: “reviews”.

As you read all of these reviews, put on your list both the positive and negative things people mention. And search more pages if needed.. And highlight the details that tend to be repeated the most

What your customers don’t like will help you spot opportunities where you can do better than your competition. Your customer’s favorite points will indicate an advantage over your competitors. Knowing both of these, you can now make a business plan to see if you can beat them in both their strengths and weaknesses. Learn more about writing your business plan:

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5. Other brands or products that customers like

If possible, look at the products and brands that customers follow or talk about in the media. review site and blog. You can see them in their posts: “Likes”, or in the list of pages they are following.

Remember that you won’t be able to view this information for customers with more private media profiles. However, on review sites, another user’s review is usually public. Alternatively, you can check out other blog posts that have reviewed your competitor’s products and see if they’ve purchased products from similar brands.

6. Other customer segments

Often, businesses have more than one target audience. Can you identify different customer groups with different characteristics, occupations, and ages beyond the ones you’ve listed? Even if they are not in the majority, it is still worth noting. These groups can become segments where you can reach and sell better products than your competitors.

Find catchy words to attract customers

As you conduct your research and fill out your portfolio, you will notice many ideas and words your customers repeat over and over.

For a competitor, you’ll probably find most of the rave reviews rave about their “fast service.” For another competitor, you may find that most customers find their product “expensive”. Keep an eye out for these repetitive phrases and make notes in your portfolio. These frequently repeated words will help you understand what makes your competition stand out.

More importantly, you can use the right words to attract the same kind of customers, like a magnet. These “magnetic words” will attract the attention of your target customers, because these words meet their needs and desires.

Watch these important words as you compose your brochure and use them as a starting point. Your ad will be much more effective when you use actual language that your target customers use.

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Here are some copywriting guidelines you can refer to when applying this technique:

Get to know your competitors’ customers

Once you apply the above competitor analysis exercises to your main competitors, you will have an idea of ​​the types of customers they are most successful with. You can even add some of your competitors’ customers to your list, if you find they’re targeting a completely different kind of customer.

You’ll also have a starting point for your marketing plan, as you’ll be more aware of the kind of customers that are buying from small businesses like yours. With this detailed research, you’ll be better equipped to survive – no matter how competitive your industry.