In traditional marketing a lot of time is spent keeping tabs on the competition. Whether it’s monitoring their newspaper ads, or watching their commercials. It is important to know what your competition is doing.
“If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles… if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.” – Sun Tzu, Art of War
We have competitors both on a national level and a regional level. It is important to know who they are and what they are up to. With online marketing one of the first questions I ask anyone, is where their leads come from. If they tell me they buy leads, I ask where the company they are buying leads from, gets them. If they don’t know the answer to this they have a problem.
If you are buying leads, someone has a better understanding of where your customers are than you. What would you do as a business owner if someone built a building between your storefront and the road? If you watched them then qualify which of your customers they were going to allow to go through their back door to you, and which of your customers they were going to keep or hand to your competitor?
In the real world we would frantically search for a way to build another building even closer to the road to cut these middle men out of our lives. Yet online, most businesses instead negotiate the rate at which they buy their customers from these companies.
This is a big problem that we will go into more depth in the future, but suffice it to say the first step in solving this is to gain an understanding of what your competitors are doing. When I say competitors I am talking about anyone that interacts with a potential customer before or after you do.
At Savvy Dealer we make the study of your competitors second only to a study of your own position online. In order to understand where we need to direct our focus we need to understand where our customers are coming from and where they are going.
Most businesses are surprised when they see the results of our research and learn that supposed friends and referral sources are not in fact finding new business but are intercepting customers that otherwise would have come directly to them.
There are three basic ways to direct potential customers to your business. The first is Paid Search, or online advertising targeted at people we believe are our customers. The second and cheapest (yet hardest to maintain) is Organic Search. Organic search is when someone types their question into Google and we come up on the first page as having the best answers. It should be the goal of every dealer to understand what questions future customers ask, in order to optimize your website to answer those questions.
The last is Social Media. This is the most misunderstood of the three. Social Media should be thought of as a movie and less as a television commercial. When E.T. followed the trail of Reeses Pieces sales of the candy took off. Yet nowhere in the movie did any character pitch price and taste to the audience. It was a subtle message that resonated with people. This is a large subject we will have to return to as it holds much of the untapped potential the Internet has to offer.
We need a mastery of where to advertise and what to advertise for paid search, what to optimize for Organic Search and what to be talking about to peak and retain the interest of a society with no attention span.
What I am suggesting is not easy, but not knowing what your competitor is doing right and wrong may leave you without a business to run.