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Gaining the Edge in Your Market Through Competitive Research

In an oversaturated market, it can be difficult for prospective customers to discern between companies. Everyone is posting professional photos of delicious-looking food with appealing displays. They’re touting the awards and accolades of their well-trained chefs and sharing equally-impressive menus. 

For the business owners on the other side of the table, it’s difficult to rise above the competition in a sea of sameness. You might have the tastiest food, the best chefs, and the most elaborate menus, but if you aren’t equipped to stand out against competition, the market will overlook the value you offer and commoditize your products and services.

With a bit of old-fashioned competitive research, you can get crystal clear answers about how you stack up against competitors and what you can do to rise above the noise to truly attract your ideal client. Here’s how you can get started assessing the market.

Look at yourself

Before reviewing your competition, you need to have a firm grasp on what you have to offer and how you’re currently performing in the market. Take an honest look at your greatest strengths and weaknesses to determine where you can shine (and how you can improve). A great place to cultivate feedback is through reviews and testimonials. What do your past clients have to say about your company? This information will help you to identify a corner in the market where you can rise above the rest, rather than wading through the muddiness of undefined excellence.

Another great source of information is to revisit all of the frequently asked questions you receive in your inbox or during your consultations. What do your prospects struggle with and what kind of solutions do they expect from you? This can tell you a lot about where you already stand in the market and how you meet the expectations of your clients.

Look at your competition

Only after performing a full examination of your own market presence should you start to consider the competition and what they have to offer. Once again, reviews are going to be the best source of feedback to learn more about what your competitors do well (and what they don’t). Pay attention to their biggest praises and strongest criticisms. This is best done on third-party review sites; testimonials on a company’s website are typically the best of the best, so always look for the full picture on sites like WeddingWire, The Knot, and Yelp.

Once you have a solid understanding of your own strengths and weakness as well as those of your competitors, you will start to see the overlapping qualities emerge. This is known as market parity. Essentially, it means that a consumer expects excellent quality from both companies in an area in which they have overlapping strengths. 

Perhaps it’s having the freshest seasonal foods or the best customer service—whatever it is, this is the area that will have the most influence in a client’s purchasing decision. Thus, you should be talking about this regularly to tout your strength in this space.

However, let’s not get market parity confused with a competitive advantage. Your competitive advantage is where the money is and where you can truly set yourself apart from the rest of the market. To find this, look for topics in which you have a clear strength that is either not mentioned or is a competitor’s weakness. Pull these concepts into your content marketing by writing blog posts and sharing helpful resources on social media.

For example, if you consider yourself to be the leading expert in all things local, you can start developing content about the best spots for engagement shoots, favorite venues, top restaurants for rehearsal dinners, must-see visitor attractions, and so on.

By talking about the things that only you do best in the marketplace, you can virtually eliminate the competition for your ideal clients. When a prospective customer is looking for that one specific thing that you do well, it’ll be clear that your competition does not do it as well as you do. While it is important to promote those strengths you share with competitors, the real magic comes when you build your competitive advantage into your marketing on a regular basis. 


Christie Osborne

Owner | Mountainside Media

Christie Osborne is the owner of Mountainside Media, a company that helps event industry professionals brands develop scalable marketing strategies that brings in more inquiries and leads. Christie is a national educator with recent speaking engagements at NACE Experience, WIPA and the ABC Conference.