Lessons learned are less expensive than learned lessons. In other words, why suffer through the pains of trial and error, blazing heretofore-uncut trails? Instead of expending time and capital learning lessons, spend some time gleaning useful knowledge from the learned lessons of those who have gone before you.
Learning from your competitors’ ads can be a valuable primer on what to do and what not to do in the marketplace. Converting their learned lessons into your lessons learned can be of significant benefit.
Here’s what you should observe.
Where They Advertise
When you saw the header above, you probably thought we were going to suggest you follow in their footsteps. However, this is only advisable if they have the exact same business model as you and are appealing to the exact same customer like you. If this is the case and your competitor is larger and better funded, you’re going to have trouble gaining traction advertising in the exact same places they do. You should only try to do this if you know you can comfortably afford to outspend them. Instead, look at what attracts your opponent to a platform based on what you know about their ideal customer and replicate it in ways designed to appeal to yours.
What They Advertise
If you’re seeing them advertise the same product in the same way month after month, you can safely assume both the product and the format are doing well for them. Again, instead of replicating their effort precisely, put your own spin on it so your ideal customers are attracted the way theirs are. Consider the nature of the promotions they run and use them as a baseline from which to mount your own campaigns. This is equally true whether you sell electronics online, cosmetics, or any other consumer good. Look for the most effective elements of the campaign and find a way to incorporate them into something reflective of your values and image.
How Well It Works
To get an idea of how successful any given media outlet will be for you, take some time to see what kinds of results your foils are getting from it. In other words, if you’re going to go fishing, look to see where other anglers are having the most success and with what bait. Identify the keywords they’re ranking well on and see what you can do to leverage them for your own good—again if your budget will permit you to go head-to-head and come out on top. Otherwise, consider incorporating those keywords into long tail phrases, so you can still take advantage of them without trying to outspend an opponent with deeper pockets.
Monitor Their Social Media Campaigns
The true beauty of social media is you get to see exactly what their customer base thinks of your rivals. As you’re reviewing their activity, pay particular attention to the comments generated—both positive and negative. Further, you can analyze the traffic they get from the various platforms to see where they’re getting the most benefit. When you see something that really catches on, adopt it and ride it to the bank right along with your counterparts.
Learning from your competitors’ ads is a great way to jumpstart your advertising efforts without wasting budget trying to figure out what works. However, as always, your first step should be to get to know yourself and your ideal customer. This way, you can determine how best to apply what you learn to your particular circumstance and audience.