Competitive Focus, Part 1

Posted in Competitive Focus | March 13,2013

Competitive Focus

What are your competitors doing to market their practices?

It’s a question that occupies the minds of our clients, a valid concern in the competitive focus and landscape of their respective practices.

But keeping a pulse on your competition is only half the equation. What do you do with that information once you have it? How should it guide your own marketing decisions?

The overarching idea: Use as much information as you can about your competitors to define, establish and optimize your practice’s position in the marketplace.

To explore this, let’s review the aspects of your competition that you need to know and how you can use this information more effectively in your business.

Competitive Spending

Why it matters – You need to know who is dominating the market and where it’s being dominated. How much are your competitors spending in various media categories? What are they spending in your media categories? What about the media outlets, i.e. stations, websites, papers, magazines, etc.?

These are all valid questions when considering where to advertise. We use different media buying software and reporting systems that offer types of spend tracking so you can get a feel for your competitions’ market share, monthly spend and where they are advertising.

How to use this info: Don’t think you’re doing yourself a favor by gaining this knowledge and then going where your competition is. Maybe you’ve heard this line from a sales rep: “Well, your competitors are all over our station, so you’re really missing out on the market by not advertising with us.” Obviously the rep is telling you this as part of his/her pitch to sell you media space, but in fact, the opposite is probably true.

Think about it like fishing: You walk up to a pond, and multiple people are already fishing. They have fished longer than you, they have more lines in the water, and they’ve already acquired all the best spots. Can you work your way into the mix and start fishing too? Yeah… but it’s going to be an uphill battle.

If we were living in the mid-20th century, you would have only a few ponds from which to choose – a couple of TV stations, three radio stations and the local newspaper. Today, you have literally thousands of ponds across broadcast, print and online, many of which are untouched by your competition.

Know where your competitors are, and focus on the areas where they aren’t. This will allow you to be more strategic in your ads. You gain market share, your competitors move their dollars to try to chase and compete with you, and the door is open for you to dominate any media.

Remember, he who dominates wins!

Competitor’s Products/ Services

Why it matters: You need to know your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) in order to sell against your competitors…AND you should know their USPs to combat how they sell against you.

Focusing on the U in this equation, there’s only one way to determine what is UNIQUE about your business – figure out what your competitors are doing! There are plenty of ways to do this:

  • Conduct online research. Visit their websites and learn about what products they offer, what technologies they use and when appropriate, what procedural steps are in place for customer care.
  • Call them and pretend you are a customer (be sneaky!) Ask all the right questions to get the info you need. Get pricing info. Find out all the answers you need to compare your practice to your competitors.
  • Visit the competitor’s practice yourself.

How to use this info: 1. Do NOT automatically assume you need to offer EVERYTHING your competitors are doing and more. This ties into the principle in the previous segment about competitive spending. MORE often isn’t the answer. But making sure your message is unique and speaks directly to your target audience IS the answer.

On the opposite end of this spectrum…

2. Do NOT assume that if your competitor is doing it, it can’t be a vital part of your practice too. You don’t have to be SO DIFFERENT than everyone else in town. Your value is not completely derived in how contrasting or edgy or ahead of the pack your practice can be. Don’t be SO PROGRESSIVE that your target audience can’t even identify with you.

So find your sweet spot! Your business should encompass all the best tidbits of your competition plus your own unique elements, which serve as the secret ingredient in the Awesome Pie you serve your patients.

That’s enough for this week. There will be a Part 2 of this segment to explore how to combat your competitors’ promotions and how to outshine once you assess their customer service.

Until then, your action items are:

  • Try to figure out where your competition is spending.
  • Outline what their main products and services are and what they are saying about them.
  • Figure out your USP and add it to the front page of your website.

Questions? Comments? Need help? Post below or email us directly.

Are you interested in rising to the top of your specialty while competitors frantically chase after you, dumbfounded at why your practice is busting at the seams while they are struggling to stay afloat? Let’s talk.