Fair warning…this post may be a little controversial. In the online course marketplace, I’m told that it’s not appropriate to look at what your competitors are doing.
Aren’t we taught in Marketing 101 that one of the things you do before you develop a new product or service is to review the competitive landscape?
This is not to copy what they are doing. In fact, it’s the opposite. You want to make sure you are differentiating yourself in the market.
What’s a Competitive Analysis?
A competitive analysis is a review of your competitors. It’s that simple. You are looking at how they are positioning themselves in the market and what they are doing right or doing wrong so you don’t make the same mistakes. It also allows you to identify gaps in the market, so you can help serve them.
How to Conduct Competitive Analysis for your Online Course:
First, make a list of all your competitors. This list should include 5 or so competitors that you want to review. Put them in an excel file or Google sheet so you can track what you discover. If you don’t know who your competitors are for your online course, spend some time in Facebook or LinkedIn groups. Check out your Facebook or Instagram feed. It’s likely that some of their ads are targeting you!
Next, you will review the following for each competitor and track your findings:
What lead magnet do they offer for their course?
What makes them unique? In other words, what is their positioning statement?
Sign up for their newsletter. What do they include in their emails? How often do they email their subscriber list?
Review their social media accounts. What social media accounts are they most active in? Are they posting regularly? How big is their following? How are they promoting their course on social media? Is the content original or curated from other sources?
Subscribe to their blog or podcast. Are they blogging regularly? How do they promote their content? Are users engaged with their content?
Review their pricing and what’s included in their online course. What support do they offer students? How do they justify their pricing?
If applicable, read any customer reviews.
How do they promote their online course? Through emails, social media, ads, etc.?
Review their advertising. Save any Facebook or Instagram ads. What’s included in their ad copy?
Are they using affiliates to sell their online course?
Next, conduct your SWOT Analysis:
SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Here, you will consider:
What is your competition doing well? What are their strengths?
Where do they have room for improvement? Did you identify any weakness in their business or with their online course?
Based on your review, what opportunities can you take advantage of?
What threats have you identified?
By reviewing your SWOT analysis, you will be able to determine where you stack up to the competition and where there are gaps are in the market that you can capitalize on.
Whatever you do…don’t start working on developing a product like an online course without conducting a competitive analysis. Also, don’t use this exercise to compare yourself to others. You are unique and bring a special gift to your audience. Use this exercise to differentiate yourself and identify gaps that you can take advantage of.