Visit a Competitor’s Web Site

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

Looking into a Looking Glass

Visiting a competitor’s web site can be a very useful way of holding a mirror up to yourself to better understand and measure the effectiveness of your own brand (while taking the pulse of your position in the marketplace in relation to a company that’s out to secure the same business).

What You Should Look to Learn
(i.e., Your Checklist of Considerations)

When you visit your competitor’s web site:

  • Determine whether the content is brochureware (i.e., strictly informational) or transactional (i.e., providing interactive tools to place orders, pay bills, request a quote, etc.).
  • Read the description of their products and services and compare the features being highlighted to your own.
  • Ask yourself whether your competitor has succeeded in communicating a distinct brand and determine the kinds of qualities being emphasized (ex:  staff expertise, locale, ease of doing business, history and track record, use of latest technology, etc.)
  • Learn what service promises and commitments are being made (i.e., 100% satisfaction guarantee, 24/7 availability, etc.).
  • Ask yourself whether a particular visual style has been used that you can immediately associate with your competitor (ex:  use of a corporate color, font, byline, logo, etc.).
  • Determine how often new content is posted (daily, weekly, monthly, only upon revision to the site).
  • Get a quick sense of whether SEO has been taken into consideration; when you search for a product or service you both offer, whose comes up first?  How far down in the search results is your listing?

Once You’ve Completed This 10-Minute Exercise, Ask Yourself . . .

  • Was this experience almost like looking into a looking glass and seeing your own reflection?

OR

  • Did this looking glass show you the brand you’d like to become in the future?

OR

  • Did this glimpse at your competitor make you feel better about yourself?

Obviously, your answer to those questions is determined by your findings during your 10-minute visit, so your next job is to analyze your results and – if necessary – develop a game plan for improving.

Next Steps for Future 10-Minute Branding Tasks

Take a close look at each of the 7 Checklist items above.  In any instance in which your competitor fared better than you, develop a strategy to enhance your results.  For example:  If your competitor features Internet sales and service and you only offer brochureware, start putting together a plan of action to learn the enabling activities involved in expanding your web-based operations.  (A very big mission begun as a result of a quick 10-minute branding task!)

Once you have considered each item on your checklist, try to step back and consider the overall picture you see.  Does this current view reflect the company you want to be?  If not, is the time right to revisit your Vision Statement and refresh your brand, knowing that a better defined and executed brand will ultimately translate to better sales and operations?!

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