Ivan Temelkov
June 8, 2016

4 Ways to Beat Your Competition at Their Own Game

The digital marketplace is becoming a lot more saturated and competitive by the day. Every company that offers creative, design, development, or marketing services in general seems to have morphed into a digital entity. We are the height of the biggest digital and technology disruption in human history. Naturally every company wants to get a piece of the pie and cash in while they can. Sure, it makes absolute business sense. Hop on the wave and ride it for as long as possible.

The competition is fierce! Although there are several ways that you can actively penetrate your direct or indirect competitors. One aspect of strategic business is being able to outperform your competition. When it comes to digital marketing specifically, strategy, tactical implementation and targeted execution can make all the difference in the world. Those three specific areas of focus can be huge determining factors of your business success.

Keeping tabs on your competition is simply one component of strategic business. Any brand that operates in today’s fast-paced digital world should always be keeping a close eye on their competition. In essence, this is what precisely makes for competitive business. It’s something that you perhaps as a business owner should also factor into your digital marketing mix.

So, how can you beat your competition at their own game?

1. Identify Your Competitors

One of the first questions that I ask my clients is, “Who is your competition?” To this day I am still quite baffled at the answers. Realistically speaking, the majority of modern brands have little or no comprehension of their competition. If you’ve been in business for more than 4 years, you should definitely know who your competition is. From a business standpoint it’s imperative to identify them. However it seems that a vast majority of companies are struggling in in this regard.

There are 2 different types of competition that every modern digital brand should be aware of at all times:

  • Direct Competition – a direct competitor is one that offers the same products or services as you. For instance, you offer digital marketing services. A close direct competitor of yours could be anyone who offers the same type of services as you. Naturally there is a differentiation between B2B and B2C focus. Understanding your direct competition can help you more strategically penetrate in the digital marketplace.
  • Indirect Competition – an indirect competitor is one that offers similar products or services that satisfy the same consumer interest as you. For instance, Burger King and McDonald’s can be classified as indirect competitors. They both offer similar products that satisfy an identical consumer need.

Identifying your competitors closer can begin with a few simple investigative tactics.

  • Use Google and perform various searches around the products or services you offer. Take note of who appears on the front page. Visibility matters and if your competition has it thaen you need to figure out how and what to penetrate.
  • Pursue social media channels like Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook. Perform various branded or non-branded searches around your competition. Are they visible? Are other users talking about them? Is there positive perception and interest?

2. Current Search Positioning

SEMThe truth of the matter is that visibility matters. Being on page 1 of Google for specific keyword terms or phrases is important. However it does not definitively correlate to quantifiable results in terms of revenue. As a modern digital brand you should have targeted search positioning in the online marketplace. When it comes to your competition you should be capable of depicting your direct or indirect competitors search positioning.

  • Google, Bing, Yahoo – perception is reality. That reality in the eyes of consumers needs to be established through search visibility. When it comes to products or services, consumers turn to search engines for answers. MOZ for instance offers a full suite of products designed to help you better understand your own and your competitors search positioning. Take it for a spin and perform a thorough investigation of your competition.
  • Organic vs. Paid Appearance – if you’re not in the search space then you practically do not exist. Comprehending that mentality and realizing how you stack up against your competition can be a key turning point for your business. Tools such as SpyFu can pinpoint the organic and paid media presence of your competition. Take a look at what your competition is doing in terms of organic and paid optimization. If nothing, then you’re already one step ahead. If their approach is aggressive, then you’d better strap yourself in for a wild ride!
  • Mobile Presence & Optimization – the world is mobile. Over 67% of consumers are inclined to purchasing a product or service via a mobile device. Where does your competition fit in? Do they have a well optimized mobile presence? Does your brand have a cohesive mobile presence? Adjust accordingly in accordance with your competition or suffer consequences. It’s that simple!
  • Content – fresh content is the new way of selling. Not really new in the true sense because a lot of other brands have been utilizing content marketing for some time now. In order to remain competitive, you should put forth a valiant effort in learning your competitor’s content tactics. How often are they blogging? Is the substance of content valuable? Does it provide insight? Naturally, if you’re lacking a content strategy and your competitors have are masters of content, then it may be time to strongly consider a content strategy of your own.


Strategic and targeted search positioning has huge merit on your business. Simply due to the fact that most consumers will turn to search when looking for products and services.

3. Social Media & Community Engagement

Any reputable brand operating in this modern digital age fully understands the need for social media. A vast majority of these brands probably even have a basic social media presence. Typically it entails in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and perhaps a few others. If your competition is engaging in social media endeavors than it’s imperative for you to also take action. In order to find out how effective your competition is in their social media endeavors considering identifying with the following areas.

  • Channels – find out which particular social media platforms is your competition actively using. Why are they using these social channels?
  • Messaging – communication is an important aspect of social media. Finding out how your competitors are communicating with their target audience might spark new ideas. Are you using specific messaging techniques? Are they following the 80/20 rule or maybe heavily promoting themselves?
  • Following – I’m an avid believer of quality over quantity. The number of followers is irrelevant in comparison to the level of engagement. Although in the social space, for certain brands, a strong following represents authority. Evaluate the following of your direct and indirect competition.
  • Activity – consistency is a key ingredient in social media. What type of activity is your competition engaging in on individual social platforms? Is it positive/negative? How can you perhaps emulate or explore such methods?


Active social media and proactive community engagement plays a huge role in business. Seeing what your competition is doing in that aspect of digital advertising can provide insight for your own brand.

4. Holistic Assessment

Getting a full understanding of your competitors digital marketing endeavors serves of utmost importance. Depicting individual areas as outlined above is merely a piece of the big puzzle. A holistic competitor analysis can always be extremely beneficial in gaining a holistic understanding of your competition. Websites like Compete.com provide technology that can perform a close-up inspection of your competitors.

Do you have any thoughts or suggestions about this article? Please share them below in the comments section.


Image attribution: Lead image: Copyright: ‘http://www.123rf.com/profile_alphaspirit‘ / 123RF Stock Photo

2nd image: Multiple sources, origin unknown

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A digital marketing practitioner bringing nearly two decades of seasonality to the table with emphasis on Search, Social, & Content. I'm enthused about helping small businesses increase their digital footprint by utilizing the power of technology, web, strategic thinking, and targeted execution for maximum market penetration. CEO of @RazorSharpDigit, a human-centric digital brand but can be found @ivan_temelkov on Twitter as well.