A lot can be learned from simply reviewing the activity (or lack thereof) of the competition and others in your industry. By understanding the activities that are already occurring online, in relation to your business and industry, you can effectively leverage ideas that are already working and/or identify gaps in activation that you can take advantage of.

Depending on the industry you are in, there are two main groups that you should spend some time reviewing, in-depth. The first is the competition, both big players and small players, and the second are regulatory bodies.

Auditing the competition can be a timely task, but I promise you that opportunities will reveal themselves through this process that you’d likely never think of if you skip it. So, take the time and invest in this step, it will save you a lot of time and make sure you are heading in the right direction as you develop your strategy in later steps.

  1. Define the Competition

List 2-3 competitors and write down a few sentences about them off the top of your head, without doing any research.

Answer the following questions:

What do they do well? What are they weaker at? What is some recent marketing/product activity that they’ve been doing? This summary should give you a quick snapshot of who your competitors are and their key marketing activity.

  1. Search Media Audit

Pick 4 or 5 phrases or keywords that your customers might search online in relation to your industry. These should include general keywords as well as more specific ones. Perform several searches and write down anything that you note of interest. Which company dominates search for different keyword phrases? Which do you dominate, if any. 

  1. Digital Media Audit

Of the competitors you chose, visit their websites and look for social links. These links often appear in the top right or in the footer as small Facebook, Twitter and YouTube icons. Create a spreadsheet and record each competitor’s name and copy the links to all of their digital media properties. Scroll through the activity write down a few notes about anything that is of interest. Look specifically for things like, number of followers, frequency of post, number of comments/ engagement, nature of content being posted, plus any specific promotional campaigns they may be doing.

  1. Evaluate Regulatory Opportunities & Limitations

Is this applicable for you? 

  1. Barriers & Key Issues

Once you’ve taken a comprehensive survey of yourself, the landscape in which you exist and you have a good understanding of your business objective, take an opportunity to write down 3-4 of the biggest things that are going to stand in your way (key issues) as you reach for your objectives. The best way to reach a goal is to have a strong understanding of what you need to overcome to get there. Examples of common barriers include: strong competition, lack of awareness, low trust and credibility, low engagement category, etc.