Competition research is the practice of discovering and documenting companies that providing the same services as you.
Should you do competition research yourself? Depends on how much time you have on your hand versus money. Competition research is done by professionals who are much more efficient than you can be and more thorough as well. Also, you want a third party who isn’t biased and won’t be “found out” by the competition. Competition research when done right isn’t unethical but there are some grey areas that are best left to the professionals. I always suggest hiring someone for competition research. Your time is best building your business and providing the service not doing research.
If you can’t answer these questions then you are a good candidate for doing some competitive research.
- Are my prices competitive? Am I charging enough?
- Can I offer new services that I haven’t thought of yet?
- Are there new packages I could bundle?
- What is the pricing model used by my competition? Hourly/fixed bid/estimates?
- Is the market saturated with providers of this service?
- Is there a niche I can capitalize on?
- Does my competition make it easy to schedule the service?
- What keywords do my competition use in their website Search Engine Optimization.
- What review websites are they on? How are their reviews?
- Do my competitors advertise their prices?
- How do my competitors use social media? How often do they post? What do they post about?
- Should I be offering discounts for seniors or other special group?
- What trade associations are my competitors in?
- How are my competitors marketing themselves? Adwords?
- How big is the competition’s staff? Full time/part time/seasonal
- What does the competition they pay their staff? W2/1099?
- Do my competitors have a newsletter? Online quote form? Phone number prominently listed on their website?
Once you have your competition research done you probably will reevaluate your business model or at least how you want to present yourself online to potential customers. This will affect the content/pages you create, the brand you wish to portray, and functionality on the site such as mailing lists, quote generation systems, online scheduling, etc.