Are you gauging your industry competitors correctly?

If you are trying to grow a successful business, it is imperative that you stay one step ahead and monitor what the competition is doing, no matter what type of field you are working in. Understanding a competitive edge they may have—be it marketing strategies, services, or top clients—is key.

This helps you to better identify how your company can fit in by finding its own voice in the current market, standing out in a sea of information overload, and delivering unique brand messaging. Plus, the bottom line is that future clients are seeking the best solutions to move them forward as well.

That’s why Fast Company Executive Board members share the rhyme and reason behind their best practices for monitoring the competition and their market share below.

1.  EMBRACE THE ‘CONSUMER ECOSYSTEM’ APPROACH.

Instead of just assessing raw data, map out the customer journey from awareness to loyalty. Deploy social listening tools, analyze competitors’ customer reviews, and study their content strategies. This holistic lens doesn’t just quantify share, but it also reveals qualitative insights, exposing competitor strengths and potential gaps in the market tapestry. – Miles Rote, Kevin Anderson & Associates

2. CONDUCT AN UNAIDED BRAND AWARENESS TEST AND MAKE SOME FRIENDS.

The best way to gauge your company’s market share is to conduct an unaided brand awareness test using a professional, unbiased primary research vendor. As for understanding the competition, the best way of achieving this is to turn them into friends and simply ask them. – Peter Hillowe, Manifest

3. READ UP ON VENTURE CAPITAL DATA AND FOLLOW INFLUENCERS.

Many venture capital resources offer data insights into the industry, especially startups. PitchBook, Crunchbase, StrictlyVC,  “Not Boring” by Packy McCormick,  and  “Stratechery” by Ben Thompson are all excellent. Following top VC influencers on social media, such as Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures, is important. Also, keep in touch with early-stage angels and VCs who can share the kind of deal flow they’re seeing. – Caroline Winnett, Berkeley SkyDeck

4. USE AI TOOLS TO TRACK SALES COMPETITION ON WEBSITES AND SOCIAL MEDIA.

Calculating market share can easily be simplified: total sales revenue divided by total addressable market, multiplied by 100. Monitoring the competition is vital. Stay updated on pricing and feedback, and use AI tools for efficient tracking over websites and social media. If you stay informed about industry news to spot gaps and opportunities, it will broaden your perspective on industry needs and how to meet them. – Spencer Steliga, Shuddl

5.  PARTICIPATE IN INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION WORKING GROUPS.

It’s essential to participate in industry association working groups and lead them if at all possible. It will help you learn more about the industry and mindset of companies, and how they are pursuing a market segment. I also like to use digital competitive analysis tools—like Semrush, SpyFu, and more—to get additional detailed insights into competitors’ online marketing strategies. This way I know what and who they are targeting. – Leigh Dow, BlackCloak

6. BLEND CONVENTIONAL ANALYSIS WITH DISTINCT INDICATORS.

Assessing market share and competition involves a blend of conventional analysis and distinct indicators, including gauging our presence through industry event invitations, monitoring stock fluctuations for publicly traded entities, evaluating media references, assessing talent acquisition strength, and noting the attention received from analysts, a comprehensive approach to our market position. – Krishnan Venkata, LatentView Analytics Corporation

7. UNDERSTAND THE ‘WHY’ AND ‘HOW’ OF COMPANY SUCCESS AND FAILURES.

There are so many analytical tools and market data out there. But the key is not just to understand the “what” and “who”—but also the “why” and “how.” Why does your company perform well in certain areas and not in others? How do you leverage the success and rectify the mistakes? Simple data is just data. The true power of information lies in the underlying root cause and derivative actions. – Doug Lui, Aptera Motors

8. IMPLEMENT A PR SOFTWARE TOOL.

Leaning into the power of PR software, like Muck Rack, is the quickest way to understand how your SOV stacks up and assess what messages your competitors are putting into the market.  Whether it is announcements of new clients, new or effective services they are providing, awards they are winning, or thought leadership, it can give you a pretty clear idea of their marketing strategy. – Stephanie Harris, PartnerCentric

9. ASK YOUR CUSTOMERS FOR HONEST FEEDBACK.

The best way to understand your market share is to ask those who know you best: your customers. This involves creating comprehensive feedback loops in which you ask hard questions and accept the answers even—and especially—if they challenge your assumptions. – Gergo Vari, Lensa

10. LISTEN, WATCH, LEARN, AND FOCUS ON WHAT WORKS.

It’s a paradox between listening, watching, and learning—then putting your head down and focusing on your craft and business. Be open to learning from your competition, listen to your customers, and keep up to date with industry trends and news. However, also focus on what’s working well in your business and continue to zero in on that. – Ginni Saraswati, Ginni Media

11. TAP INTO A DIVERSE SET OF EMPLOYEE RESOURCE GROUPS.

One way savvy organizations do it is by tapping into employee communities (e.g., women, Black employee resource groups) to gain in-depth insights into their purchasing behavior and preferences. As these communities grow, ERG insights become invaluable for companies gauging their competitiveness in penetrating an increasingly diverse 21st-century total available market. – Joseph Santana, Joseph Santana LLC

12. DO A SWOT ANALYSIS  OF THE COMPETITION.

One strategy is conducting a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of your competition. What do they do well? What do they do poorly? What opportunities do they have that you don’t? And finally, what are their biggest threats that could unravel it all? This should give you an honest assessment of where you are lacking and what you need to focus on to gain a larger share. – Jason Hall, Five Channels

13. GAUGE THE COMPETITION’S POPULARITY USING GOOGLE TRENDS.

Competitor tracking is useful to measure how successful your competitors’ marketing is. A tool for this is Google Trends. It displays interest in a brand over time, separated by specific characteristics. Location or time-based stamps with a spike in interest likely mean your competitor had a successful marketing campaign. This way, you can track the marketing of your competitors with precision. – Daria Gonzalez, Wunderdogs

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