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This podcast episode talks about competition online. Discussed in this episode are the tips to use your competition in a positive way such as knowing your competition and what makes you different.
Welcome to Webmaster for Hire’s Cyber Bulletin Podcast. Get the power to increase your business’s web impacts.
Elizabeth Varian: Welcome to Webmaster for Hire’s very first podcast. I am so excited. I have Carrie Currie , my sidekick on the phone with me. Say “Hi”, Carrie, to everybody.
Carrie Currie: Hello, Hello.
Elizabeth Varian: So we want to welcome everybody. We are excited to do this. This is pretty cool. We’ve been helping our clients with their podcasts but like the shoemaker’s children, we start ours last, right?
Carrie Currie: Right.
Elizabeth Varian: So bad, but, better late than never and podcasting–if you don’t know is definitely the way to go to deliver your message to your audience. They can listen or read, whichever they prefer. Let’s just jump right in. We’re going to be talking about competition and competitors today.
Carrie Currie: I’m really excited about this particular topic.
Elizabeth Varian: Yeah, how come?
Carrie Currie: Yes, well, because it’s … we’re going to be talking about some items of business in regard to competition–Exactly–that I haven’t exactly ever thought of before.
Elizabeth Varian: Nice, I love it and that’s our goal. To help educate people and get people to think out of the box. Most of the time we don’t even want to be thinking about our competitors. Some people–we find our clients who over think about their competitors. What are they doing? How are they doing it? Et cetera, et cetera. You can drive yourself nuts if you do that. But, the other side of it is, they don’t even think they have competition–which by the way, everybody has competition. Even if you do only one unique gadget that you build. It solves the problem of somebody else. There’s five other solutions out there that will solve the same problem. It may not be the same widget but it’s still going after the same client. One time we don’t want to be thinking about our competitors is when we are sitting in the waiting room for a prospect meeting and they come walking out.
No, today we’re going to be thinking and talking about our competitors in a useful way. Like Carrie said we, in our production meeting went over a lot of notes and she’s like “I haven’t thought about that before”. Well, I am like “Well, that’s good.” Because then that means someone else hasn’t thought about that before. We are going to call this podcast basically “Your Competition and Beyond”. Giving you tips for how to best use your competition to get ahead and then some … I’m hoping my competitors aren’t listening to this but, hey, if you are, welcome to the podcast.
The first thing we want to talk about is using your competition. Webmaster for Hire, we build websites and we do full service internet marketing. We always, when a client or prospect comes to us and wants to talk about building their website, the first thing we do sure enough, we go and find out who is your competition and we don’t just though look at competitors in your market. Let’s say you’re an air conditioning company. Your current market is in your area of service. That’s your direct competition. That is your competition. Anyone else who is servicing air conditioning.
When we start building a website or start doing marketing campaigns, we don’t just stay in that area. I prefer to look in large metro-areas. We’re here in South Florida. So I would look in New York City, Atlanta, Texas, Los Angeles. Texas, I would hit Dallas, Houston areas because we want to use our competition when building a website or starting a marketing campaign so that we know what pages are they building.
Carrie, you’ve got to agree that some of the sites that we see of our competitors. They are not all doing it right either.
Carrie Currie: No, no they are not.
Elizabeth Varian: No, so what were you going to say?
Carrie Currie: You mentioned looking at your competitors nationally speaking. You are a smaller business locally located in south Florida, you’re also going to look at New York and you’re going to look and see what the bigger companies are doing there to, a) What are they missing? and b) To find out what they have on their websites that would make yours stand out from your local area.
Elizabeth Varian: Absolutely. We are not necessarily looking at larger websites, we are looking at similar sites and next level up sites. Because –
Carrie Currie: Okay
Elizabeth Varian: A family, we have a locksmith company. It’s a mom and pop company. They don’t want to appear like they’re a large chain. We are not going to compare them to a large chain. We’re going to look at mom and pop locksmith companies in other larger metropolitan areas. Then we’re going to look at locksmith company that’s a little bit larger than mom and pop’s so that we know exactly what pages should they be listing. It helps us to build up the site maps for how to build the site out. What services do they list? A lot of your competitors will try and bulk all the services together and others that are ranking will have them broken down.
I don’t necessarily know every service a locksmith has and, by the way, its way more than just getting you a key and opening up your door.
Carrie Currie: Indeed.
Elizabeth Varian: I learned it because I built their site. We are looking at competitors sites to go, what guarantees have they offered? Do they offer 24 hours services, do you offer? We create the list and come back to our clients and go, “Okay, we’ve compiled everything that your local direct competitors have offered. We’ve also gone to other metropolitan areas to what would be considered industry people there. That’s the starting place for building the website and for marketing, we also look at not only what pages do they have that are ranking but also we look at the verbiage.
I used to do trade show marketing for CBS Sports Time–which I got to tell you, I love loved it. You get totally energized by trade show marketing but it never fails… You always look to the left, look to the right and one of the boosts beside you will have something that makes 0% sense to you at all. I would always ask people, “I don’t understand, your banner doesn’t say what you do, your company name makes no sense. There’s nothing about your booth that tells me what you do.”
“Well, we want to create intrigue” or “isn’t this cute?” and I’m thinking “in your head it is”, because –
Carrie Currie: Right.
Elizabeth Varian: 9 times out of 10, people are just going to keep walking by, especially trade shows, I mean they have hundreds of booths. Many times, to figure out what you do, you’ve got literally that walk time and unless you are out in their face telling them what you do, that intrigue and that cuteness doesn’t work.
Carrie Currie: No.
Elizabeth Varian: Online it doesn’t work even less than at a trade show. At a trade show, you can at least stand in front of your booth and get in people’s faces. I don’t necessarily recommend it unless you hire some really hot models but that’s beside the point, which they do. On the internet, you have search engine optimization which is all based on key words. If you’re not using the right words that are going to get you the right traffic, then you’re literally wasting your time.
Many business owners can’t see the forest from the trees. They’re right into thick of it, they know their business. A lot of medical professionals, chiropractors, they want to talk about the equipment. I’m going to tell you right up I could care less about what the name of your equipment is, I just want to stand straight when I leave your office. I would like to know that it’s not some mass of scary sounding name which many times it can be. The only people who are going to be searching for the names of specific equipment are other doctors. Most people –
Carrie Currie: They’re not their audience.
Elizabeth Varian: No, if you’re looking for a chiropractor, you’re always going to look for local chiropractor, you’re going to put in the city name, et cetera. By getting out of your side and your head and going and looking at the competitors, number one, we can find out everywhere that they have backlinks, we have ways of … everything on the internet is searchable, traceable and trackable. We can track everywhere that they’ve got a backlink to their site. We can find out every review that was left on other sites for them. We can out all their social activities, whether it’s pinterest, YouTube videos, Facebook posts, how they interact in twitter.
When it comes to your competitors online, it’s an absolute must to know what they’re doing in order to get yourself a foundation, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve tried other things here and there. It should never be a trial, it should be systematic. That’s a way that we use our competitors.
Another way to use competitors that a lot of people don’t think about is their testimonials.
Carrie Currie: This is the one that really caught my attention.
Elizabeth Varian: It’s not something people think of. How many times are you trying to create a brochure or come up with your elevator speech or create a banner for our site or say something new about your business and you draw blank. Writers block. You can use your own reviews and post those which are great but then you’re forced to use the same reviews over and over again.
You’re not going to steal their reviews and pretend that they’re your own.
Carrie Currie: No. Don’t do that.
Elizabeth Varian: We are going to keep white hat. We’re white hat here, not grey hat, not black hat, our only hat is white. What you can do is, the people who’ve used your competitor are real people using real words. The same words that your prospect can identify with, the same words that they will potentially be searching, the same problems that your prospects have but they state it in a way that you may not have thought of. You can look at your competitor’s Google plus pages, yelp pages.
On their websites if they list their testimonials. Facebook has reviews, you can check them out. What you want to do is you want to grab the problem and the solution and why they would be recommended. Those three things. If you ever watch any informer show late at night, because you’re not sleeping and there’s nothing else on, those are the three questions that they always cover. What was the problem, what was the solution and why would they recommend these people.
We want to grab those reviews and testimonials and use them as your marketing slide show banners by–not saying that someone else said it about you–but let’s say one of my competitors, their testimonial reads,” xyz company, it was difficult to find a webmaster that I could communicate with. I really connected with them. I felt secure.”
I could grab from that, “Having problems communicating with webmasters? Connect with someone who will speak with you comfortably.” And there’s my banner. I didn’t have to think of any of that, I could just grab that testimonial from a competitor’s site. Email campaigns. You can take some of those testimonials and write an email about it, talk about the problems that they had starting out using their words and then answer it and solve the problem. You’ve become the solution in your email campaign.
If you’re brainstorming tag lines, a lot of companies have a problem with tag lines. Many small businesses don’t realize that larger businesses have spent tens of thousands all the way up to millions of dollars just creating and constructing a tagline. In the UK, they’re called strap lines. It is, but it’s your brand.
Carrie Currie: It is.
Elizabeth Varian: A lot of money on larger companies is focused on the brand. Smaller companies focus on the leads. If you don’t have the tens of thousands, you don’t have the millions to get your tag line or strap line, then you can look at these and brainstorm from both your testimonials and mix in a bunch of your competitors testimonials. You will be able to construct your own tag line from it using real people’s real language. Getting your prospects to identify with you as the solution, on the internet in 5 seconds or less. This to me is the number one way to do it.
The other thing is that it takes you out of your own environment, as business owners. Carrie, you’re a writer. A lot of people, they’re just now meeting you. They don’t know she’s a phenomenal writer. She started out as a writer with us.
Carrie Currie: Thank you.
Elizabeth Varian: You can get so stuck in your head if it’s your stuff.
Carrie Currie: You have to go out and read about other people’s stuff.
Elizabeth Varian: Absolutely. It breaks that in-the-box thinking, always saying the same things the same way. It gives you another way of saying it. One thing we do want to … before we switch off to going beyond the competition. Competitive world is like almost an industry within marketing, is , I don’t want to call it ‘competitive analysis’. It’s a huge factor where large businesses have departments focused on competition: what are they doing, what’s the research.. The second someone comes out with one thing, we’ve got to get on top of it.
If you think everybody knows the Swiffer products and you have the Swiffer sweeper… well, it took competitors … after they went through research and development and put the market out and then proved the market. It takes a while to prove it in the market place. Once they prove it in the market place, the competition only has so long before they can jump on it. I was looking at what it took, about 8 years was the span before they had competitors come up. They had to prove it in the market place to be profitable before some people jump on it.
There’s a story where one large cooperation, no names being named, had their executives go dumpster dive into the competitor’s dumpsters. When you’re looking at your competition and you want to ‘meet them and beat them’ concept, you have to know that there’re some laws in place, dumpster diving is not allowed.
Carrie Currie: No, that would not be allowed.
Elizabeth Varian: It is not allowed. You would think it would be because the rule is, if it is public domain, it’s free to use. But a garbage can technically on property is not public domain until it hits the garbage truck. Just so you know, no dumpster diving.
Carrie Currie: FYI, people.
Elizabeth Varian: Webmasters, our junk is all on our computers so that would be hacking anyways.
Carrie Currie: Another thing I’d point out is some businesses might not see this as unethical or illegal to call one’s competitor and pretend to be a prospect in order to get their service packages.
Elizabeth Varian: It absolutely hits the grey line! If caught, it is not technically allowed. I will tell you, I’m in an office complex that is shared by multiple offices. Prior to getting our own system in here so that we would have our own wi-fi connection, our own router, our computer was on the shared wi-fi. I have had people print, but they print to the wrong location and they accidentally hit that one. One of my competitors price quotes came across my printer.
Carrie Currie: Technically speaking, you didn’t do that.
Elizabeth Varian: That was nice of them. I appreciate this. It can get out there, did I keep it, you bet I did. They’re not a direct competitor. They would be someone I’d probably recommend for someone who has a smaller price point. I thought that was hysterical. That’s fine. You didn’t seek out for it.
You should not be calling up your competitors. I don’t think you should be thinking about your competition too much. I don’t think you should lose sleep at night over your competition. You should know what makes you stand out from them. I know what makes me differ from my competitors.
I believe there is enough market share for all of us, I don’t look at anyone as major competition. I know my selling point, and my selling point is always what makes me different. Ours is, simply put, personalized service, you’re talking to the owner of the company, you’re not being passed off. You get the owner’s cell phone number, they don’t, they are not sharing all that. They’ve got overhead with the way their businesses are structured.
Knowing your competition and what makes you different, that should be part of any business plan right out of the game.
On the internet, your competition can help you with your marketing strategy. However, you should never stop with just focusing on your competition. It should only be a foundation.
That takes us to the ‘hey, let’s go beyond.’ They should basically never be your measuring stick for your decision making. When you’re making decisions, you should always stay ahead of trends. In essence, you should be the trend setter in your business. You should be the leader. If you always look at your competition and you only do what they do…
Let’s say we do a back linking report and we find that our competitors are listed in — what we can’t do it for our industry because of the way our industry is set up.
Let’s say you are a printing company and you’ve got online products and service offerings. Your other competitor is doing social networking on Facebook, LinkedIn, they’re doing an e-news letter and that’s it. If you only did that, they’re always going to beat you. They’re always going to be ahead.
They’re not on video, why can’t you be on video? Once you see what they’re not doing, that’s telling you what you should be doing. To look at your competitors and go “well, they’re not on video, it probably doesn’t work.” No, they probably don’t realize that, yeah, Google, the number one search engine, owns YouTube, which is now the number two search engine. People are by passing search engines to go to YouTube.
Carrie Currie: I’ve done that.
Elizabeth Varian: Yeah and Gen Xer’s which is my generation–I think you’re Millennial? You’re under 35?
Carrie Currie: I’m a little bit above.
Elizabeth Varian: You are in my generation. Millennials is 19 to 35, Gen Xer’s which would be 36 to 40 something, we’re not going to say, close to fifty. I think it’s 55. Well, Gen X’s, everybody else is baby boomers. Gen Xers’s and Millennials will go to YouTube first, automatically. Baby boomers are catching on because they’re watching their kids in the Gen X or grand kids in the Millennials group all going there. They are catching on. Having your video gives you a presence especially since we’re a microwave society. We don’t want to read anything, we want everything in 5 seconds or less.
Having that video is going to put you out there above your competitor. Because of the fact that Google owns YouTube, guess who they’re going to be ranking or what they’re going to be ranking? The videos. If you look at online marketing and you’re only doing what your competition is doing, you’re going to make them the leader. You’re always going to be following.
We have a good example of this. We started creating the production of this podcast a couple of months ago. We started creating our topic list and deciding what we were going to do first, et cetera. It got a little bit late and I figured out it was because one of our clients wanted to prove the rest of the story. They were looking at the marketing we were doing for them. We have full service marketing packages, we don’t stick with those packages because the internet doesn’t stick with those packages. It’s always changing.
We’re always keeping on top of all the changes and we do more than just SEO and –
Carrie Currie: A blog post.
Elizabeth Varian: A blog post. We do a whole lot more because it takes multiple strategies to stick longer. We were doing podcasting with this local pool company, no names to be named, and they said to me, “I don’t understand why we’re doing podcasting because none of our competitors are doing, we checked all their sites.”
I said, “well, none of your competitors were doing videos before either and you’re ranked in the top rankings with all these videos. You’re above and beyond them.
They said, ” I don’t think we should be doing anymore podcasting because we just don’t see any value in it.”
When you hire an expert, you should see that their advise has a value because —
Carrie Currie: There’s a reason to —
Elizabeth Varian: I kid you not, it was not even a month later and they tell me, “Hey, Elizabeth, you won’t believe this.”
I said, “What’s up?”
“We just got a new pool build client because they heard our podcast.”
Carrie Currie: Really?! That just proves that you’re right.
Elizabeth Varian: But your competitions’ not doing it, podcasts — Because your competition isn’t doing it, especially online, it just means that they’re either doing marketing in house and they can’t keep up with all the latest trends, they’re paying a company that keeps them in whatever package they filled out. It is the package they get for the eternity in life for the package. As long as you pay them, that’s what they do. Their personal lives, let’s keep you with the trends is not necessarily there. If you keep up with the trends, it may not happen overnight. This one we’ve been doing it for several months and it took probably two months before they stopped doing it and then I hear that it happened.
On the internet, if you do things the right way, it has longevity and staying power. That’s definitely something that you have to keep in mind when it comes to keeping your eyes on your competition. They can slow you down.
Carrie Currie: Yes.
Elizabeth Varian: One of the things we’re talking about — packages. Let’s talk about why offering various things. A lot of our competition has a package, they keep you in that package. They would do SEO, guest posing, onsite blog posting … We do all those things. Many of our competitors tell people that Pay Per Click is the way to go. Pay Per Click is a very expensive form of marketing for disappearing ads.
Carrie Currie: Disappearing ads?
Elizabeth Varian: Disappearing ads. Pay Per Click means you pay every time someone clicks a link. You’ll find more often than not, if you look at your competition, that’s what they’re doing. It’s the fastest way into the search engines in Google and actually most of the search engines Yahoo, Bing, et cetera. The ads are on the very top. You’ll have two ads there and then they’ll go down the right side. They know this about their ads.
Back in the day, I’m old school, back in the day when I was starting online, a 25 cents per click ad was crazy. Now I’ve seen them go for hundreds of dollars for one click. It depends on the industry because there’s that many more sites out there. You set your budget and most people would come in and say, depending on your industry–like to be a weight loss doctor with vitamins.
Don’t even try it, you need to have a large budget for that. They’ll say your budget should be $2,000 a month. That doesn’t include their management fee. They set average clicks. They look in Google Ad Word and they set up the budget and it runs seamlessly with some monitoring. Once you’ve met that budget, whether it’s the first week of the month, the middle of the month or you still have some money left over without month, once that budget is hit, your ad disappears.
That money has disappeared because the ad disappears because they’re not going to keep showing your add if you don’t have any more money for them for those clicks. Same thing with Facebook ads, but Facebook ads are more cost effective. You can spend $2,000 a month plus management fee which is usually anywhere from 10 to 20% of course so, $200 to $400 on top of that.
At the end of the month, you decide, “I don’t want to do this anymore. I tried it for 30 days.” — which you should never do anything for a 30 day trial on the internet, you should always do 6 or 8 month trial, just saying. — Let’s say you did that. Your ads disappear after your budget ran out. You tell your Pay Per Click professional, ” I don’t want to do it anymore.” They say, “okay.” They’ve already cashed your check, the money is gone, no worries and off to the next competitor or client that they have. You, in the mean time, have spent $2,000 on something that has now disappeared. Whatever you got while it was showing, that’s all you get for that money.
Carrie Currie: It’s gone now.
Elizabeth Varian: We do have someone we recommend to help with our Pay Per Click campaigns for clients that want it. We work with longevity clients because when you do SEO, when you do social networking, if you do videos, podcasting, you do various strategies. You pay the $2,000, get the article written and added to your site, guest posts are sent out, you’ve got backlinks back to your site.. The majority of that work, if you quit, it stays. It still stays and generates and part of the search algorithm is history.
Get your stuff in before your competition because we’re still talking about competition.
You can do Pay Per Click ads but you should also … that is short term, also balance it out with long term. Your competition, if they’re bouncing around, you keep the longevity. Like the pool company, had they kept going with the podcasting, not only would they have gotten that one pool build client, but because we do transcription along with podcasts, you get SEO value with it. This page will stay linked to Google for way longer than any Pay Per Click ad out there. If you see your competition doing Pay Per Click ads, that’s fine. I have one competitor, they put tens of thousands into Pay Per Click ads. I can see it, I can track it, I know exactly where they’re at. I don’t, because that’s not the clientele I want. I want clientele who’s ready for the long run. One’s that want long term marketing strategies. Again knowing your competition but also knowing who you are and what your business is about and who you want as a target audience.
When it comes to Pay Per Click ads, I would suggest, Don’t just follow your competition into the Pay Per Click world. Focus also on other areas which we here at Webmaster for Hire offer, I can’t even say my own company name, which is video marketing, podcasting, reputation (which is review marketing) and other strategies that will focus on your goal, customized to your needs. Wrapping all this up, we want to tell you, don’t stop because you competitors aren’t doing something. Don’t follow –
Carrie Currie: You be the leader.
Elizabeth Varian: Don’t follow them into high end marketing budgets if you don’t have the budgets to match them, especially if they disappear on you. Do stick for the long run. That’s why you want to hire an expert who keeps up on the trends and keeps you ahead. You got to be the leader. If you want to excel beyond your competitors online reach, call as here at Webmaster for Hire at 561-822-9931. We’re going to bring you more strategies than just SEO and Pay Per Click.
Carrie Currie: Yes.
Elizabeth Varian: That’s our first podcast.
Carrie Currie: Thanks for joining us, Everybody.
Elizabeth Varian: Yes, join us. We’re going to try and do this weekly. We are setting the schedule and we are going to make it happen. Probably starting in January more because we’re right in the middle of holiday season. Come back and subscribe to our podcast and check in with us often. Until next time, see you around.
Carrie Currie: Bye bye.
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