Glean insight from competitor tactics
There’s a familiar refrain within the branding industry, forever urging companies and entrepreneurs to stand out. After all, when there are ninety-nine businesses that use the same approach, just one that does things differently will get at least half of the attention. When your rivals loosen up, you get more professional. When they prioritize pricing, you prioritize quality.
In many cases, though, seeking to be contrarian is the wrong move. Take SEO, for instance. If your top rivals are ranking well for key terms, you’ll get nothing from avoiding them and targeting relatively-insignificant terms that you can dominate. The point is that being different isn’t innately good, and the same can be said of being the same. You need to judge for yourself.
But whatever side you choose, you do need to know what those rivals are doing — and that can tell you a great deal about their customers (and your prospects). Those companies have already been through various stages of customer research, and while you can’t access it directly (it isn’t likely that they’ll share it with you, of course), you can infer from their actions.
What changes have they made recently? How have they adapted to the shifts of the last year? Depending on the level of overlap in the niches you target, you could even make competitor review the heart of your customer research strategy. You’d be behind the curve of any single rival, but by learning from all of them you could still get ahead in general.