Having to keep your eye on your competition can seem like one of the perils and constant stresses of running a business not least running an OOH campaign. But that’s actually the completely wrong way to look at it. As we shall see, by observing what your rivals are doing you can actually unlock the secrets to building your brand in a big way.
Who are your rivals?
Get your team to brainstorm your main rivals. Make sure you think out of the box. For example, if you run a cafe, your rivals aren’t just other coffee shops etc. You might be competing for customers with bars, restaurants… or cinemas.
If you run a bookshop, you’re not just competing with other bookshops, you’re also competing with Amazon. And so on.
Create a list of your competitors. Try and come up with 10 or 20 brands. List their names and their sectors, and make a note of the ways in which they are competing with you for business.
How to keep an eye on your competition
Have a quick Google
There’s lots of insight you can get just by searching for your rivals online. Type in their names, what comes up? Check out their websites, sign up to their newsletter, order their brochure.
Check out their social media accounts
What are they saying on Twitter? Create a private list of your rivals, so you can easily see what they are tweeting about without having to laboriously search for them every time.
Search for your competitors on LinkedIn, you might be able to find out what their individual personnel are up to. Look at their profile updates, they’re likely to be sharing what the company is up to, and documenting their achievements. Are they looking to fill vital vacancies? This is all valuable information.
Take a look at their Facebook presence. Check out what they’re posting on their business page. Pay particular attention to any comments or reviews from their customers.
Follow their blogs
A lot of companies run blogs these days. This can help you gain insight into any new developments going on. Are they publishing content regularly, or is there a three month gap since their last post? Perhaps this is your chance to create content to fill the gap they once targeted.
Check out their ‘About’ pages
Do you fully understand how your rivals position themselves? What is their brand identity? What are their key achievements? You can find out a lot about a company by reading the “about us” section on their site. Scroll down to the bottom of their homepage, you’re likely to find all kinds of juicy insights, from legal info to press reviews and career vacancies. All these things give you an idea of the health of your rivals, and how effective they are. They help you understand where you can gain the upper hand, what areas you could successfully move into, and so on.
Schedule meetings for your OOH campaign
It might be useful to hold team meetings every so often, say every quarter, in which you discuss what your rivals are up to, what you can learn from them, and how to better position your brand in the market.
Don’t just analyze their OOH campaigns, take a look at their marketing strategies as holistically as possible. Do you have a handle on how they’re operating? What does that tell you about your own OOH strategy?
You should brief the attendees of these meetings that they should keep an eye on the OOH ads your rivals are running, and makes note and take relevant photos whenever possible.
Try and be as systematic as you can. Create OOH dossiers on your rivals so you can stand back and take a look at what they are doing. What works, and what doesn’t?
Take a walk in your area
Outdoor and out-of-home advertising is all around you. It’s the same space in which you’ll compete with your rivals. So take the time to explore the various ad sites in your area. See who’s advertising on them. It might well be your competition. Take photos on your phone of the ads you find. Analyze the results. What are these brands doing well? What could you do better? Share your results at your strategy meetings.
For each OOH ad you come across, make a note of where the ad site was located; was it in a residential area, or on a busy high street? On a motorway siding, or in a subway station? You might, for example, discover that your rival advertises on the side of busses. Perhaps you could run ads at bus stops to try and tap into the same audience. Or perhaps you should target areas that they don’t cover.
Explore their distribution strategy
How do your rivals get their products to market? Are they stocked in most relevant major high street retailers, or do they have just a few choice placements? This can help you spot opportunities for positioning your own products.
Similarly, do your rivals sell their products offline and online, or just one or the other? Which do they prioritise? Through which avenue do they make most of their sales? Maybe you can get the edge by setting up an ecommerce store online, or perhaps you should focus more on getting your products on shop shelves.
Keeping an eye on your OOH rivals is about more than just keeping up with the competition. It’s about ensuring that your own brand strategy is as clear in your mind as possible, that you are open to all possible market placements at your disposal and that you never grow complacent. It’s about keeping your own brand on its toes, as much as it is about competing with other companies. If you are to grow your brand, first you need to understand your brand. Watching how other businesses operate gives you an essential insight into just that.