Your brand's direct competitors are pretty simple to find - they're the businesses that offer the same product or service to the same market. Since they have a similar offering, you won't struggle to find out who they are and how to compete with them.
But what about indirect competitors?
Your indirect competition can be anything that solves the same problem your product or services does. Rather than having the same offering, like your direct competitors, this is another option altogether that consumers might choose.
For example, a DIY renovation magazine could drive business from experienced builders. They're very different offerings - one sells a product, the other a service - but the consumer still has to choose between them.
Knowing your indirect competitors and how to compete with them is a vital part of your marketing research and strategy. Luckily, there are many ways to find them! Here are three:
1. Research the problem you solve
What are your audiences wants and needs, and how does your business play into them?
By looking at your product/service as a solution, rather than a physical offering, you can identify other options your customers might choose.
Let's say you're running a cafe. In this case, you're solving the problem of hunger. Consumers will go to you when they need food or drinks. Your direct competitors will be other cafes in the area.
However, your potential customers could also solve the problem of hunger by going to the supermarket and buying ingredients to make their own food!
So, how do you show customers that you're the best option for solving the problem of hunger? Many cafes are now trendy places, advertised as a spot to hang out (or show social status), so people visit them to be seen there, or spend time there, while also eating.
2. Ask your audience
What makes your customers choose you over competitors or other options? You can poll loyal customers via social media, create a survey, or even ask them in person.
You may ask questions like:
Why did you choose our business?
What was your thought process?
What other options did you consider?
And use their answers when considering your marketing strategy!
3. Look at who's using your SEO keywords
If they're using similar keywords to you, chances are they're competition.
Your audience will recognise and relate to the words you use. If you're selling trees, you probably mention trees and related words regularly in your branding.
So when you search for these keywords, what pages does Google provide? It could be something you didn't expect! Look at these pages and consider if they could be competition, direct or indirect.