Your search for the best place to spend your advertising dollars is never-ending.
Even when you think you've found a great advertising vehicle, your paranoia tells you that someone out there has found a better way to spread the word about the exact same product and has positioned themselves to steal your share of the market.
In truth, you can never be absolutely, 100% sure that you have chosen advertising with the highest possible ROI. However, you can boost your confidence by keeping an eye on the competition. Monitoring competitor advertising can tell you a lot about what's happening in the marketplace and show you where similar businesses might be striking advertising gold.
Here are the necessary steps to effectively monitor competitive advertising and use the results to gain a competitive advantage:
- Identify your competitors. Before you can begin an analysis of your competitors' advertising initiatives, you have to know who your competitors are – and that's not always as simple as it seems. Let's say you own a pizza shop. If you think every pizza shop that advertises deals in the local newspaper is the competition, you're wrong. Depending on where you live, a pizza shop located on the other side of town probably doesn't compete with your company nearly as much as the Chinese restaurant just down the road.
- Determine your competitors' target audience. It's important to understand what kinds of buyers your competition is trying to attract. Don't automatically assume that you are both going after the same segment of the market. One or two competitors in an unconventional advertising venue are probably pursuing a niche market. On the hand, if all of your competitors advertise in a venue that you don't, you had better get on the boat ASAP.
- Evaluate ad content. Your next step is to conduct a thorough evaluation of your competitors' ads. If you look closely, you will quickly discover market vulnerabilities and other information that can be useful in designing future campaigns and in gaining an upper hand on the competition.
- Exploit weaknesses. Armed with the information you gathered during the ad evaluation stage, it's time to design a strategy for advertising in the same publications as your competitors. Use colors, graphics and design features to make your ads stand out and consider offering deals that exploit competitive weaknesses. With a little creativity, a successful ad campaign can increase your share of the market.