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    No matter what business you’re in, it’s important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your competition. A competitive analysis is a critical piece of a company’s marketing and overall business plan.

    A true competitive analysis can be an involved process resulting in a detailed document. And, while working in this limited space doesn’t allow for that level of detail, it is possible to outline both the steps and some of the key questions needed to begin this valuable process.

    If you’ve taken the time to complete a strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities (SWOT) analysis of your own business, you have a benchmark to use in comparing your brokerage, agency, or sole proprietorship to your competitors.

    Completing a Competitive Analysis? Use this Checklist.

    List your competitors — This depends on the competitors you have, but choose at least three.

    Competitor profiles — Build a marketing profile or overview of each competitor.

    Identify your competitors’ customers — Who is their target audience? Are they focused on a particular niche?

    Marketing channels — Build a profile of the various marketing strategies your competition uses to reach their target goals. Include all marketing channels:

    • Website: SEO structure analysis and identify keywords
    • Social media presence: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
    • Traditional collateral pieces: Direct mail, flyers, co-branded material, etc.
    • Advertising and brand-building efforts

    Content profile — Do an inventory of your competitors’ content, looking at the kinds of content they create and the quality. This includes blog posts, white papers, eBooks, videos, webinars, podcasts, slides/PowerPoint, FAQs, feature articles, press releases, news, case studies, and buyers’ guides.

    Strengths and weaknesses — Where are the potential threats and/or opportunities?

    Market share — Market share is the size of a company relative to the industry. Divide your competitor’s total sales or revenues by the industry’s total sales over a particular fiscal period.

    Current market outlook — What is the status of the current market where you compete? Look at available inventory, time on the market, pricing, and any pertinent national trends.

    Open a World of New Possibilities with a Competitive Analysis

    A well-executed competitive analysis will help you develop knowledgeable marketing strategies and build a robust competitive approach for new and current rivals. It can also help you identify potential niche marketing opportunities and areas where you need to make improvements in messaging and change utilization.

    The insights you get into the market you share and the kind of marketing your rivals deliver, can make your company stronger, more profitable, more responsive, and more creative. And, even though you can’t always equal or surpass your competition, a competitive analysis opens up a world of possibilities.

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