Someone once told marketers somewhere that if they want to succeed, they must thoroughly research their competitors and their marketing techniques. Today, their successors honor the traditions of their predecessors, monitoring competitors to significantly accelerate their own marketing campaigns .
In other words, they spy.
Correctly conducted analysis of competitors’ activities increases the efficiency of inbound marketing techniques, the amount of traffic and leads received. Competitor research also helps compete in content and link building strategies to outperform competitors online. In this approach, there is nothing bad, if you do not take into account the temptation to assign well-working techniques of competitors and their content ideas.
The risks and consequences are clear as day:
- Transform your company into another mediocre
- Copyright infringement
- Plagiarism charge
- Google or Yandex Filters
This is where the fine line between professional content marketing and plagiarism lies: you analyze competitors not in order to copy them, but in order to emphasize your uniqueness. Evaluation of competitors will be irrational and far from innocent, if you do not feel boundaries.
Those who wish to protect themselves from the painful results of poorly performed analysis of competitors should be aware of the following errors.
Do not copy content ideas.
To develop a content strategy, you must create a list of competitors and explore their content, paying attention to the following points:
- What types of content create competitors and what formats work best
- Where do they post this content?
- How often do competitors publish different types of content.
- Content quality
- Topics discussed, social cues, the links they get, results in organic search
And now special attention …
How do you deal with the most viral topics of your competitors? In the beautiful new world you would take care of the content, the audience and create something completely new. Unfortunately (or not), we do not live in a perfect world. Most likely, you decide to borrow some competitor ideas for your content plan.
From the very beginning, this tactic is doomed to failure.
Everyone, to a greater or lesser extent, borrows something. You refer to sources, opinion leaders, or learn how to correctly paraphrase predecessors. This approach is promising and demonstrates your individual experience, which ultimately demonstrates the originality of the content. However, addressing the topic only because this topic is a strong side of the competition turns you into a plagiarist, and this is how your target audience sees you.
You can counter this using the following methods:
- Proceed to action, taking into account the weaknesses of competitors and use topics that they do not discuss. This way you will attract an audience that your competitors have not taken care of.
- Think of your strengths that are more significant compared to the competition.Focus on these details when creating your content.
- Borrow interesting topics, but only when you can improve them, for example, using the Skyscraper Technique . And only when you expect it to bring results.(There are chances, but you know that this is only a sample solution)
- If you want to avoid accidental plagiarism, think about creating a matrix of content that helps you find original content ideas for your marketing campaigns.
Avoid borrowing copyright-style competitors
When you research competitors, you get to know and analyze a large number of sources. As a marketer, you need to have information about the accuracy, depth, content structure, article length and tone used. Moreover, you need to know who is creating their content, whether there is a guest blog and in which areas your competitors are experts.
Your target audience does not need plagiarism. To turn readers into leads and avoid plagiarism charges, make sure your brand has its own voice and tonality. You must make a decision about the correct terminology used in the text, what added value your content will carry, and what words you will use that affect how readers will feel after reading your posts.
To be heard, avoid rewriting and copying others, or raising your voice. On the contrary, you must stand out from the crowd of competitors and show your target audience that you can offer unique and valuable content.
Avoid copying competitor keywords and link donors.
Are you still studying the promotion of your competitors, analyzing keywords, monitoring positions, and researching reference donors? You can legally place your links on donor sites subject to the following conditions:
- Donor sites relevant to your niche
- Donor sites link min. on your two competitors
- Donors post quality content that generates traffic
- These sites are visited by your target audience.
- Do you have materials to post
However, remember that you should not borrow ALL keywords and place materials on all donor sites that host your competitors’ articles. Such behavior will not bring a positive result, and you will only spend time and money, and, perhaps, get a Google filter or Yandex. You need to personalize the process that will emphasize the voice of your brand , features of the product or service.
How to properly analyze competitors?
Instead of copying keywords for which your competitors are leading, think about keywords that your competition does not use. Instead of copying the links of your competitors, get those that are not in competition, and do it very quickly. This approach helps to avoid accidental plagiarism in the strategy of building a reference mass.
In a word …
All is well that in moderation.
Monitoring competitors and copying their behavior should be just a part of a long-term marketing strategy. Analyze competitors in order to create your own unique campaigns that emphasize the essence of your brand, its identity and help you achieve top positions in Google and Yandex. Your goal is to outrun your competitors, and not to approach their level, is it?
What is the voice of your brand?
Does your brand have an individual style? Do customers recognize your brand by communication? The voice is an important element of the company’s identity, so if you cannot answer the first two questions, learn from the article how to change this.
What is voice and what is tonality?
First we define what points of view there are. In general, voice is a way of communicating your brand, which is a reflection of its individuality. Voice is a combination of certain qualities, for example, pleasure and dialogue, professionalism and a narrow concentration on business. It is expressed using certain words and phrases that are used in all communication channels. Voice is one of the key factors that affects the integrity and completeness of the brand’s interaction with existing and potential customers.
On the other hand, tonality is a way to use voices in various types of communication. You can apply a lighter tone by chatting with followers on Twitter or Facebook. However, you will use a more formal tone in email communication with anxious B2B clients.
You can also refer to the same type of tone in all communication channels (which, I believe, is becoming a more popular solution today as we communicate online and try to be consistent and honest as brands). However, in reality, you can define tonality as a variation of your overall brand voice.
Why should you take care of creating a voice for your brand?
Simply put, the voice of your brand expresses its individuality. Voice complements visual identification, is an element that helps your brand differ from the competition.And finally, the voice helps to voice the values your brand follows.
A voice defines the brand image in the eyes of customers (as well as your personal voice tells your friends and acquaintances about your personality). Usually people do not pay attention to whether they communicate on Facebook or by phone with customer support. They communicate with YOU. And if you can apply a voice that they recognize and are used to, they will trust more. Or, on the contrary, they will behave cautiously in a situation when they feel embarrassed or disoriented.
How can you identify your brand voice?
Before you define a voice, you need to do your homework and develop a brand strategy, and the voice of your brand will become a natural sequence.
Be familiar with who you are communicating with.
First of all, determine who your target audience is. This will help you study your customers . Determine the type of your customers, which will help you characterize your subscriber groups. It is possible that your target audience consists of more than one type of customer.
It is also important to determine the path of customers. Even in a fairly specific target group, people have different needs, depending on the stage of the life cycle on which they are located.
This step is necessary not only to create brand voice, but also for all marketing activities. And the next thing …
Identify your brand identity
Along with studying customer requirements, there are other research methods that help pinpoint the typical brand features of your brand. One of these studies is testing using brand maps.
Take a deck of cards (for example, such ) with a description of the advantages of your brand. Together with other partners (employees of the marketing department, sales department, customer service, and even executives), divide the cards into three categories: who you are, who you are not and who you would like to be.Discuss those cards on which disagreements come out. You will notice that employees of different departments see the same nuance differently. Try to create a clear image that describes the brand as it is, and identify those areas in which you want to develop.
Based on the results, determine how well you are broadcasting about your benefits. Maybe it’s time to make a change?
Also answer a few questions:
- If your brand was a car (animal), what or who would it be? (The so-called Chinese portrait)
- If you were faced with the need to describe your brand to a 10-year-old child, what words would you use?
- What makes you different from competition? How do you want to be different from other brands?
Speaking of competition, find the voices of the brands you like and the marketing you admire. I am sure that you will find such examples. (My favorites, for example, are Slack and Buffer )
Write down in detail all the nuances concerning the brand’s voice: the tonality, the channels used, the phrases and words you would like to use, and those that you would like to avoid using. It’s a good idea to create a blacklist of words and phrases, including, for example, jargon, marketing buzzwords, or certain phrases that are not compatible with your brand.
Your recommendations regarding the brand’s voice should also include a description of the stylistic and grammatical norms you wish to apply, such as avoiding the use of a passive voice, which gives the impression of impersonal communication that does not require action. Make sure you include the maximum amount of detail, such as recommendations for punctuation, capitalization, sentence lengths, heading styles, etc.
You can also hold onto a certain style (examples of some here and here ). However, you too (and I am an ardent supporter of this approach) can use one style as the main one and adapt certain elements of the others that best suit your requirements.
Create a general guide that will contain recommendations for all channels. You will probably need recommendations for tweets, writing 1000-word posts, banner ads, and landing pages.
Share with others
Make sure that each employee of the company is familiar with the brand voice and recommendations. I know, I already mentioned this earlier. However, I repeat once again – your customers should constantly interact with your brand, regardless of whether they are communicating on Twitter , using support services or email messages. This means that each member of each team must understand the brand’s voice, remain faithful to it and, most importantly, understand this voice and feel part of it.
Do not forget that the real people are behind the formation of the brand image, and it is these people who influence the degree of customer satisfaction to the greatest extent.
And what brands do you like the voices of?
Or maybe you can advise how to successfully create a voice brand? Share with us in the comments!