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Researching Competitors’ Offline Strategies Online

In some areas and industries, offline marketing can play a vital role in whether your business or your competitor’s is receiving the lion’s share of customers. The question is, how do you research your competitor’s offline strategies? Here are the most popular offline marketing strategies businesses and some online ways to find out if your…

In some areas and industries, offline marketing can play a vital role in whether your business or your competitor’s is receiving the lion’s share of customers. The question is, how do you research your competitor’s offline strategies? Here are the most popular offline marketing strategies businesses and some online ways to find out if your competitors are using them.

Direct Mail

direct-mail-clients

While email marketing is all the rage, direct mail has its advantages. For starters, you don’t have to worry about a pesky spam filter. People also tend to receive less snail mail than email (think about your own mailbox vs. inbox on that note). Both of these mean that your intended recipient is more likely to notice an advertisement delivered directly to their mailbox.

So how can you find out if your competitors are using direct mail as a part of their offline strategy? If you live nearby your competitors, you can just keep an eye out on your own mail. If you don’t, you can try finding out using these methods.

  • Check your competitor’s website or blog for an online version of their latest mailer.
  • Do a Google search for your competitor’s name along with the keywords mailer, mailing, postcard, flyer, etc. and look under the image search results.
  • See if you can find your competitor on a direct mail company’s list of clients or testimonials page.

When you find your competitor’s direct mailer, take notes on the size, how it was sent (individually, as a part of a Valuepak, etc.), and what they are advertising. Be sure to also lookup the landing page they are sending customers to if the website link goes anywhere besides their homepage.

Newspapers

weekly-ad-on-website

Newspaper ads are another popular offline marketing strategy for many businesses. If you live nearby your competitors, you can just pick up a copy of the Sunday paper as this is the most popular day to advertise (or Wednesday if your competitors are other grocers). If you don’t, you can try finding out using these methods.

  • Check your competitor’s website or blog for an online version of their weekly ad.
  • If you’re looking for a large metropolitan’s newspaper, try your local bookstore.
  • Find an online version of the local paper for your competitor.

When you find your competitor’s newspaper ad, take notes on the size, where in the paper it’s placed, and what they are advertising. Be sure to also lookup the landing page they are sending customers to if the website link goes anywhere besides their homepage.

Magazines

as-seen-in-magazines

Magazine advertisements are another source of offline leads for many businesses. Fortunately, they are relatively easy to research.

  • Check out some magazines in your industry that are popular with your target customer base at your local bookstore or online through Amazon or Zinio.
  • Do a Google search for your competitor’s name along with the keywords “as seen in” – many businesses are proud of their magazine advertisements.
  • Don’t forget local magazines while doing your research!

When you find your competitor’s magazine ad, take notes on the size, placement, and what they are advertising. As an added bonus, you can find out if this is a successful method of advertising for your competitor by looking through previous magazines to see if they have advertised in it more than once. Be sure to also lookup the landing page they are sending customers to if the website link goes anywhere besides their homepage.

On Screen

commercials-on-youtube

On screen advertising during television shows or on before movie previews is expensive, but can be effective for businesses in certain industries. If you live nearby your competitor and they are a local business, then you’re going to have to devote some time in front of the television and actually watch the commercials as well as visit your local theatre. If you’re not a fan of TV or the movies, you can try finding out using these methods.

  • Check your competitor’s website, blog, or YouTube channel for commercials or ads they may be running offline.
  • Do a YouTube search for your competitor’s name along with the keywords commercial or ad. If your competitor didn’t put it online, maybe a random viewer did.

When you find your competitor’s on-screen ad, take notes on the length, content, placement (time, TV show, movie, etc.), and what they are advertising. Be sure to also lookup the landing page they are sending customers to if the website link goes anywhere besides their homepage.

Billboard Ads

billboard-ads

Unless you are living nearby your competitor, you probably don’t want to drive around the country to figure out if they are using billboard ads as a part of their offline advertising. This is when Google image search comes in very handy again. Just search for your competitor’s name and billboard to see what your competitor’s are doing. If that doesn’t work and you live in a small enough town, you may even be able to type in the city name and billboard ads to see random snapshots of billboards that could include your competitor.

As always, when you find your competitor’s billboard ad, take notes on imagery, content, and what they are advertising. Be sure to also lookup the landing page they are sending customers to if the website link goes anywhere besides their homepage.

Exhibiting & Sponsorship

exhibitors-search

Last, but not least, your competitors might be hitting the road to be exhibitors or sponsors of trade shows, conferences, and other events. Most larger events will have a website where they list their exhibitors and sponsors, so all you have to do is search for variations of your competitor’s name and intitle:exhibitors, intitle:sponsors, or intitle:”sponsored by”.

If you have a large budget, you may want to consider attending the event so you can scope out your competition’s booth, noting how they design their space, what swag they bring, and how they capture leads. Then you can be prepared to be an exhibitor at the next event!

What other ways do you research your competitor’s offline strategy? Please share in the comments!