Just because they’re not on your sales team’s radar

When analysing how to improve your online presence, it’s not a bad idea to examine what your competitors are doing. After all, your prospects will probably be looking at these companies too, right?

The first problem here is that your competitors online might not be who you think they are. Just because one of your sales guys used to work for the Yellow Widget Company, or just because the Green Widget Company had a stand next to you at WidgetEx doesn’t make them the competition – at least not online in general, and almost certainly not in search.

Instead, try to get a better view of what prospects are seeing online using search engines. You could unearth some competitors who quietly have a much louder profile, if that’s not a contradiction. Who’s advertising? Who’s at the top of the natural search results? Take a look at a decent number of relevant search results pages, and you could build up an alternative picture of who your competition is.

The second problem is the natural inclination to assume that the bigger the company, the more they should be emulated. Many of you who work at large multinationals will find the notion hysterical. At some large corporations, even getting something changed on the website is tortuous. Developing the design is such a huge process that it only gets done in one big heave every ten years, and even then it takes so long that it’s almost out of date when it’s introduced.

Smaller companies can bang out as many innovations as time and budget will allow, and often have far better websites. So keep an open mind when looking at the opposition. Just because they’re not on your sales team’s radar doesn’t mean they’re not impressing your prospects.

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