If a person is asked if they think that they have competition in their business (does anyone else do exactly what they do or is their product/service completely unique), their response is generally no, they don't have competition. They are completely unique. Wrong! Everyone has competition.
Don't think in a way that might hurt you
The first thing that you need to come to terms with is that what you do is probably not unique. That doesn't mean that it is not different and that it does not have unique qualities to it. However, to think that it is 100% unique and that nobody else in the universe does anything that even remotely resembles what you do is just not true.
If your competitors have been in business for a while (at least, longer than you have been), the chances are really good that they already went through at least some of the trials and tribulations that you have yet to experience. At this point, you need to ask yourself why you need to learn the hard way. If they have already gone through something and have emerged victorious on the other side, you can take their experiences and take advantage of the end result. That will be much easier on you. It is not in any way unethical. In fact, it is intelligent business practice. However, it is important to remember that you must also come to understand the strategy behind the result that your competitors have already experienced.
The question is, how do you go about learning from your competitors without getting bitten yourself in any way?
Start with the blogs and other content on social media: The first thing that you will want to identify (through your competition's content) is what they did well and what they did not so well. As you probably know, content is king. That means that your successes (and failures) will all be dependent on your content so it better be good and it better be on the mark. If you are able to identify some things that they did well and that you feel really worked with the target audience, use them. You will want to make a list of exactly who your competitors are and how many are doing a more successful job with their businesses and who is not doing as well as you are doing with their businesses. That is all going to be a part of the learning process for you and the information will prove to be invaluable to you someday. The first place to start is with all of your competitors' blog posts. That not only means the content itself but it also means the way they approach the content. How frequently do they post? On which days and times do they post? All of that information will be helpful.
Now, determine how they generate a large amount of good-quality traffic: If you understand how they accomplish that, you can do the same. That is really important for your brand and for your business. You will want to pin down exactly where they are posting their blogs and you will also want to pay close attention to the actual social media channels, directories, etc., because you will need to figure out if those particular online choices will give you what you need.
Pay extra attention to their target audience: Of course, the target audience is critical to your success. If they are not the most appropriate choice, you won't get anywhere. Pay close attention to the members of the target audience of your competitors. They probably made the choices that they made for very good reasons. See if you can identify those reasons. Along with the choice of target audience, you will also want to pay close attention to the chosen blog topics. If you allow it, the target audience will drive your blog topics to a great extent. Listen to what they have to say. They will not steer you in the wrong direction.
The analysis of your competitors is critical to your success. You will want to keep in mind that you can learn a lot from your competition and they are an essential part of your professional success. Understanding your competitors' strengths and weaknesses will help you to understand what you need to do with your own business. Remember that the competitive analysis part of your business is focused on analyzing your present-day competition as well as future competitors who might give you a run for your money.