It's important (and often difficult) to know what competition you're up against. A great way to give yourself a lay of the land and key in on your best points of differentiation is to do a competitive analysis. Now there are very complex competitive analysis studies that take months. You might need that at some point, but we're not talking about that here.
Here are 5 simple questions you can ask to compare yourself to your competition and find what makes you unique from a brand and content strategy perspective.
1. Who are your competitors?
This sounds simple, and maybe you know them easily. But if you're in a service organization, like a marketing company, you might not really know who you're up against. You have thousands of competitors, really. Try to narrow the list down to 10 or less. If you really don't know who you compete with most closely, go back to clients you've recently pitched. Ask them who else they considered and why. Ask them what was compelling about each agency. Ask clients you won and clients you lost.
2. What is their unique perspective?
Once you've narrowed your list down to 10, spend some time on their websites - particularly their blogs, content, video, and social media. Give yourself a half hour to an hour to go down the rabbit hole. What are they talking about? What's their unique skill set and perspective on your industry? Do people comment on their blog? What do they say? What conversations are they participating in and contributing to? Do they post case studies regularly? Do they share proof that their work is successful?
3. What's their process, GUARANTEE, OR PROMISE?
Do they talk about how they do their work and how that makes them unique? What about their team and their unique strengths? What about them sounds cool, interesting, unique, that made you like (or dislike) them while you were reading? Do they promise anything special about their results? How do they back that up?
4. How Do They promote Content?
What keywords are they focusing on in copy? How many links are they using in posts? How do they rank for SEO? Are they integrating content with earned and paid digital media? Run a few search queries related to their brand terms (start with name iterations) - how highly do they score?
5. Ask Your Clients
Ask your clients. Create and send a short survey monkey to all your current clients and ask them what they think is great about you. Allow them to write in answers and use these verbatim on your site, in case studies, and with prospects. Don't forget to include a net promoter score - this can be valuable in a myriad of places. Send them a small gift of appreciation when they've given their feedback.
How are you different?
Hopefully along the way the process brought up thoughts about all the things that set you apart, or make you special. Things that you would do, or say, if you were them. Or that you think are missing from their promises. Use these in your marketing materials, ads, sales pitches and more. Say things like "Others may say that x is the way to do it, but we say y is the best way and here's why." Or "One of the things our customers like best about us is our unique process."
Knowing what makes you unique will help you stand out, gain confidence in the marketplace, and pitch confidently knowing that no one can do it quite like you.