Episode 77 | How to Determine Competition

Show Notes


[00:00] Child: This is Startups For The Rest Of Us: Episode 77.

[00:04] [Music]

[00:12] Rob: Welcome to Startups For The Rest Of Us, podcast to help developers, designers and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching the Start-ups whether you built your first one …

[00:20] Child: Or you’re just thinking about it.

[00:22] Rob: I’m Rob.

[00:23] Mike: And I’m Mike.

[00:24] Rob: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. What’s the word this week, Mike?

[00:29] Mike: Well, I’m in Canada.

[00:31] Rob: Canada. Vancouver?

[00:32] Mike: Nope. Calgary to be exact.

[00:34] Rob: Awesome. Is it chilly up there?

[00:34] Mike: Not too bad. It’s about 40’s or 50’s right now.

[00:38] Rob: Oh cool. Yeah, I got a couple of things I wanted to revisit. I was actually listening to episode 75 which is two episodes ago. And remember we had a question about someone was thinking about starting an idea that with $99 a month and it was catering to retailers with closed out merchandise?

[00:53] Mike: Yeah, I remember that.

[00:55] Rob: And we were kind of butting ideas back and forth about it and I was listening to that I realized why didn’t we suggest to really differentiate because I was trying to think why would this idea any different than Craigslist. Why wouldn’t retail and put the stuff on eBay and the way that he would have to penetrate this market I think would be to hire someone or do it themselves for the first few months. Hire someone to go on site and actually snap the photos and post the stuff for free. And now would be to differentiate or write a new B up to X items per month for 99 bucks and then a B X dollars for each additional one or you could have it to your plan as well. But I just realized that like that could actually be a differentiator, right. The reason they would keep them from putting their stuff on Craigslist or eBay is just purely the labor aspect of it.

[01:39] Mike: That’s not a bad idea because then you could charge them to essentially come on site and do that stuff for them but then you’re introducing a labor component on your own side.

[01:48] Rob: I know. There’s a lot of manners. I mean it doesn’t scale that well. It’s definitely not like a super highly scalable business.

[01:55] Mike: You know what? I think you could probably use it to target people who are in the photo industry who are hard up for work and just try and get them to go do this jobs on your behalf and obviously, they have to upload the photos and enter stuff in to your software but you could pay them by the hour and how long could it possibly take to do 25 or 50 items because you’re charging more for more items than, you know, you could certainly use that to judge what your cost are especially in that startup test.

[02:22] Rob: You’re saying almost like crowd source that like just have a kind of a work force piece may work force out there or job goes out and people can claim it and go do it rather than have someone that you or even a contract that you have on staff. Just kind of have photographers, people who know how to take pictures out, they’re doing it.

[02:36] Mike: Yeah, a little bit of both. I think initially you’d have to do it yourself or have somebody that you trust do it because then you can kind of work out the bugs in that process and then once you’ve kindly got that down, then you could essentially crowd source that work out to people and then pay them that way.

[02:52] Rob: Right. So, cool. I don’t know if still the economics work in 99 bucks a month but anyways, that’s just another two cents on that. By the way, people are wondering whether call quality is going to crummy because you have a crappy wireless at the — [Laughter] at the hotel. So I’m calling Mike on a landline and —

[03:07] Mike: That’s an understatement.

[03:08] Rob: But hey, I am — I have a couple of other things. I noticed that there were couple of comments on episode 75. This was the same one about the $99 a month episode. Someone called aStartup and said, “@Casey. Will the store make more than $100 a month using your site? I think that amount, the amount is too much. If it’s a big store, they already have a way to get rid of clearance for free; Slickdeals and Fatwallet.” And those are websites I assume that they can list their stuff. And then someone named Mike Sickler says, “My idea would be to make it completely self-service for the merchants. They can sign up, enter their store details which is their address, contact info, et cetera and use a single rich text editor to enter their current items or specials. Nothing complicated.” There’s actually a website that does this. Started by — do you remember John Gallagher?

[03:53] Mike: Yeah.

[03:54] Rob: Yeah. He started it. And John, you’re going to have to e-mail me because I forget the URL but we’ll mention it in future episode. But it’s basically all this is a big text area when you go to the home page and you just paste a bunch of stuff in it instantly like parts just through it and list all of that. Now there’s enough photos with it but it is by far the quickest way to, you know, sell a lot of stuff online. Mike continues and he says, “Design a really sharp-looking logo for your site and have window decals made. Each store would be sent two or three. Provide a couple of templates to the stores (Word docs are fine) so they can make their own flyers to publicize your site to their customers. Make it cheap and self-service, 20 bucks a month. Market to municipal Chambers of Commerce. They’d love this kind of thing.”

[04:33] So, I think 20 bucks a month is too cheap based on all that effort and the high touch that it’s going to take to recruit merchants. And I’ve had worked with an entrepreneur who was working with the Chambers of Commerce. And it sounds like a good idea but Chambers of Commerce are kind of innovated with these kinds of things. So they are — they do tend to be pretty choosy and you really have to hold their hand and be on them for months. The sell cycles are very long. So I’d like that there is now been 3 or 4 different ideas. It’s brainstorming time on this idea. I mean you’re not going to know until you try and if it fails and then you can try one of the other options.

[05:05] Mike: The comments are on the startupsfortherestofus.com website, Mike. Not me. Well, I’m still wrapping up a bunch of things for MicroConf and my to do list is pretty short but I feel like I’m going to have a lot of random things that’s just going to pop up here and there until the conference actually is over.

[05:20] Rob: Twenty days away. What did you possibly have that you still need to do?

[05:24] Mike: Well, I got the USB Keys have arrived and I’ve got all the name badges and everything else and I got to print those out. Now that everything has kind of all in one spot, I can take a look at that stuff and I’m just trying to get and gather all the digital materials from the sponsors and make sure that all that straightened out and so I can get that over to the conference workers who load up the USB Keys and hand them out.

[05:44] Rob: Cool. Yeah, most of the stuffs also wrapping up on my end. I do still have a few small things to wrap up. So here we got several new iTunes reviews. We’d really appreciate if you’d had over there. Even in the last week we had three or four new ones and Scott Underwood said “Awesome podcast, great podcast with awesome information for anyone looking to start their own web-based business or launch a software product. Keep up the great work.” And then Ann Isadora said “This podcast is the one you want to hear. Imagine that no crushing, no costing, no get rich quick. Just two smart level headed guys who want to help. Thank God.”

[06:18] Mike: Yeah, is she talking about us there?

[06:21] Rob: [Laughter] Yeah, I know. Well thanks, Ann. We appreciate the compliment.

[06:25] Mike: So this past weekend, I was pretty sick. It totally blew my entire Saturday under the water. I’ve been leveraging my contract developer and my virtual assistant quite a bit more lately. And it was nice to see you like on Sunday afternoon that things were still getting done even though I wasn’t around actually to do them.

[06:41] Rob: No. That’s a beauty of it, right? It is like I don’t work Fridays and so the three-day weekend every week is, well, it’s great to kind of relax. It’s not actually relaxing because I’m typically watching kids and I do answer e-mails and stuff. But I take a lot of joy or a lot of pride in coming back on Monday and seeing how much got done while I wasn’t really doing anything on Fridays. It’s this crazy feeling of like it’s almost like free worth. I’ve always been on the mind set like you have to do the work for it to get done and over the last few years learning the outsources becomes such a pleasant experience to come back and see things that are done and done well and you, you don’t really have to worry about them anymore.

[07:14] Mike: Yeah, I think what I need to do next is find somebody who I can leverage this like a QA tester because that’s what I’ve spent a lot of my time doing this. I’ll hand it off to the developer and he’ll do the — do a bunch of work and then turns around and comes back to me and I end up doing a lot of QA work. I’m filing bugs and making sure the things are being fixed.

[07:32] Rob: Yup, I agree. That’s the majority of stuff idea as well these days. So …

[07:36] Mike: And that’s something you think you can outsource or you never tried to?

[07:39] Rob: I haven’t tried but it’s on my list once I get. So right now, I’m working on getting a developer. I’ve gone through two or three different ones and they’ve been so-so. I haven’t really found the one I want to stick with the long term for HitTail specifically but I have another guy who’s starting and he seems really good. He’s basically in the middle of his first task. And once I get all that nailed down, because it is time consuming [0:08:00] to bring up a new person. Once he starts doing some smaller projects and I have confidence in him, I absolutely I’m going to look for someone who can, a QA person who can learn the App and I can basically just e-mail and say, ” All right. 48 hours from now, I need this thing QAed.” Luckily the App is not huge. So it’s like you can QA the whole thing in a few hours. So assuming that that we’re going to do a release, it would be great to just have some kind of on-call who could — you could assign to evening. So yeah, I have — I just had it kind of like s a back burner task to find someone who can help with that.

[08:31] [music]

[08:34] Rob: So how about this week, what are we chatting about?

[08:36] Mike: One question that keeps coming up in the Micropreneur Academy is that there aren’t really any good niches left for going after to have a fair amount of traffic and low competition. And I think the problem with looking at things that way is just that there’s always going to be competition and it’s about whether you cannot market that competition or not which is really the root of the problem. So I thought it’d be a good idea to talk about how to evaluate competition to determine whether or not you cannot market them or not and say help you identify the markets that you want to go after.

[09:05] Rob: Right. I mean I think maybe ten years ago, there were niches with actually zero competition but I’m not sure that the world was ready for those niches yet. 37Signals when they came out, they came out with their SAS App. Salesforce came out their SAS App. I mean there were a very few SAS Apps at the time and really people were not that wild about paying monthly fees for these things. They weren’t that well but I think their data hosted elsewhere and they weren’t that wild about not being able to reach it when they weren’t online. And so as it becomes more mainstream to build the web apps and to get this mobile apps and all that stuff out there, of course over time this, you know, even the niches fill up and someone creeps in. So yeah, you’re right. There’s not — there’s very, very few niches with zero competition.

[09:48] Mike: So the first one that I’ve thought about was being able to calculate the total potential SEO traffic for a sign. And one of the ways you can do that is to use add words and basically just add up a bunch of the numbers for all the different [0:10:00] keywords that you’d be targeting. And then beyond that, you want to add even more based on whether or not their traffic is SEO driven or whether its partner site or directory driven. The little bit more is going to depend a lot on the type of website. So if it’s more a high touch sales and chances are they’re not going to get a lot of SEO traffic that directly drives those sales and especially if they’re using a lot of affiliates, then you’re not going to find the — the SEO traffic is going to go to them as well.

[10:26] Rob: Yeah, I talked about this in my book and then again on the academy and I have kind of — it’s a fast and lose formula that I derived in the book for how I estimate markets. And I mean it’s as good as any that I found. Frankly, there aren’t that many out there. But the whole ideas that you look at SEO traffic and then figure out is that what this company is based on or you know, as least 25% of their traffic coming from that or 50%. You try to estimate it and then you try to do some Math from there. And for a lot of sites, it winds up being pretty even. They’ll get like a third of their traffic from SEO, a third from direct and then a third from my referral traffic.

[11:01] Overtime if you have a kind of a basic niche software product that will tend to be the direction at head as long as at least some people are searching for it and you’re not in the niche that’s really offline. If you market to like construction companies, then be a representative SEO traffic is going to be tiny, tiny. I’d say it’s 5%, 10%. But if you market to, you know, say web designers or any niche, photographers. I mean even just niches that do tend to be heavy online, you can easily get to 50% or more for as representative of SEO traffic.

[11:33] Mike: So the next part of that is using other sites to get a better handle on what kind of competitions they are. So another way you can try and find out what kind of competition they are is using sites like compete.com. And compete.com will allow you to plug in a URL or website name and will essentially give you a round about estimate of what they feel that the traffic levels are for them. And if the site that you’ve targeted doesn’t [0:12:00] have a statistic relevant sample, then that’s probably a good thing. A good thing in terms of the fact that that site probably doesn’t have a lot of heavy traffic but on the other side you may — since you’re targeting a niche market, chances are good that it may not have enough traffic for compete.com that you can really be looking at that niche.

[12:18] Rob: Right. And all of these tips, they kind of fit together to give you a little bit more insight in to your competition. Each of this gives you just a tiny bit more insight and no one of them should be a single red flag or like an open gate to just come and attack this niche. All of these have to work in tandem because each of them has a margin of error. I’m actually looking at compete.com right now. And I just did it in on my blog and our blog last month, I think it got 20,000 uniques and Compete says 3500. So [Laughter] obviously, that’s off, right? By a factor of five in this case. In other times, it’s been off by a little more. If I get a big spike in traffic, Compete just doesn’t tended to notice that but this does give you an idea, especially for larger sites. It tends to be a little more accurate. It’s not going to attracts spike but you can tell if someone is that a 100,000 uniques or 10,000 uniques or 1,000 unique. I mean that’s really kind of — those are the levels that you are looking for and I do find that Compete, well it can be way off. You didn’t tandem with all these other ideas we’re going to be talking about. It can just be, you know, one more piece of that picture.

[13:20] Mike: Yeah, that’s definitely a good point to mention is that you’re just looking to get in the right ballpark. I mean are you within a factor of ten? And if you are, that’s probably okay. You don’t want to be off by a factor of a hundred but if you’re within that factor of ten and in combination with all of the other things then it gives you a ballpark estimation of how much traffic you’re getting.

[13:39] Rob: Right. And I mean if you think about 15 or 20 years ago, doing this kind of research would be really, really hard. It was just such an opaque world without the internet. And so you can either not do this altogether or you’d have to spend a hundred grand to hire a firm to do it or just wasn’t available information. So the fact that in, you know, a matter of 20 or 30 minutes, you can probably go down and do all the things that we’re going to mention here and to get at least a reasonably blurry picture. It’s a way, way better than what we could have had 15 years ago or so …

[14:09] Mike: Right. And that’s just to help you get that gut check. It’s not — it is you said it’s not meant to be perfect.

[14:13] Rob: Right.

[14:14] Mike: So the next thing to do is look at that who is records with the domain and if the domain is been around for awhile, but the sales content on the site hasn’t changed a lot, then chances are pretty good that the site is being pretty well neglected.

[14:25] Rob: Yeah, often you can see this like in a copyright notice at the bottom of the site or, you know, there’s a last changed date like an update or modified date on files depending on the web server but I’ve done this before. I’ve actually, you know, you go to Google and typed in find the last changed date for an HTML and you can find a tool plugged in the URL and it will go and ping the server and if the server will give you that information, it’s kind of cool to find out “Wow. I have not updated the site for four years.” And like you said, that’s just a little more insight in the “Huh” this guy’s either just coasting on a gravy train and there’s no other competition or they’ve kind of bowed out all together, you know, and they’re not really using their website as a marketing channel.

[15:03] Mike: Yeah and one of the things that makes doing some of this a little bit difficult as you don’t necessarily have a good picture of when the website was changed. I mean, it may have changed six weeks ago and it’s still just looks like it’s from 1997. Well, you can use a site like the way back archive.

[15:19] Rob: Archive.org.

[15:20] Mike: Archive.org yeah. And if they have old copies of that site, I mean they won’t have images or anything like that but it will be able to tell you within a reasonable time frame when different updates were made to that site and you’ll basically be able to look at what is almost a calendar to show you the number of updates that were made to that site and when those updates remain.

[15:41] Rob: I have a question. So we’ve talked about looking at your competition like looking at your competitor’s websites.

[15:45] Mike: Uh huh.

[15:46] Rob: What’s the best way to find those websites in the first place?

[15:50] Mike: I would probably start by looking at the keywords that you plan on targeting for whatever that niches. So, if you’re looking at invoice and software [16:00] you type in invoice and software. But I would probably start by going back to Google add words and start looking to see what things people are searching for because you’re probably going to drive mostly your business or at least attempt to drive most of it from the search engines.

[16:13] Rob: Well, I think that’s at least a starting point right? And I think some of the businesses that people are going after are much less SEO focused.

[16:20] Mike: It gives you a starting point and that’s really the idea and once you get at least one or two competitors that you’re able to look at, then you can kind of expand your focus a little bit from there because not every competitor is going to be focused on exactly the same problem that you’re trying to solve. I mean, some of them are going to be close but not quite what you do.

[16:39] Rob: Right.

[16:39] Mike: But basically you’re just looking for related search terms all say.

[16:42] Rob: Cool.

[16:43] Mike: So the next one is to go and start looking at their support forms that they have and you can use those to judge the company response of these problems. If those forums are stagnant, then they might not be getting as much traffic as you think they are.

[16:56] Rob: Honestly, I feel like forums have just gone out of style like a lot of new SAS App don’t have forums anymore. Have you noticed that?

[17:02] Mike: Yeah, I have.

[17:03] Rob: I just think that’s an indication of the way things kind of support has changed.

[17:07] Mike: I think forums have gone more of the social route than …

[17:10] Rob: Yup.

[17:11] Mike: The support route.

[17:12] Rob: Right. I mean, I think like when people are building online community and they’re often like trying to — they’re building them more on Twitter. Some people build them around Facebook and I think forums were intended both to help with support originally as well as to build the community runs their product then get people talking about, you know, different ways to use it and then trying to help each other out. And I really, I mean, I can’t think of the last new app that has launched in the past over years that also launched with the big, you know, forum attached to it. It just seems kind of like that wild garden these days and like being on, you know, a social network. So, even use and something like UserVoice who’s a MicroConf sponsor, by the way. I think it’s a better approach these days.

[17:49] Mike: I think part of the original basis performance was to bring that kind of a culture out of Usenet and into, I guess the rest of the world because not a lot of people, none a lot of non-techies I’ll say were using Usenet.

[18:05] Rob: Right.

[18:05] Mike: So, it was more than make it web enabled and grew into kind of a whole business and then people said “Oh, what else can I use this for?” and it was back in the early days of the internet and that’s where its roots are and then it just got used for support forums and things like that. But there are people who still use them.

[18:21] Rob: Oh, sure. But I mean even like with HitTail, it had forums and I shut them down when after I took it over and DotNetInvoice, we’ve had forums since I bought it and we actually are shutting them down this week. I mean, they’re — they’ve been okay for support but frankly we’d rather had people e-mail us. It’s just easier to deal with. It’s easier to track to kind of one input and output coming out and then if we really want to engage and build the community, it’s just much easier to do in a social area like Twitter or Facebook or known other network where you can engage the whole world and not just have, you know, people having to come to your website to do it. So …

[18:54] Mike: So, the conclusion on work, I mean too is that if they have support forums and they’re probably not …

[18:59] Rob: Probably not following the latest start up trends. I mean, for whatever that’s worth. But definitely you can tell us, I mean if the forum’s last post was a couple of years ago, obviously, it gives an indicator that it’s probably not an active, active product.

[19:11] Mike: Uh huh. So next is to do some simple Google searches for the keywords that you’re after and see if the competitors that you’re looking at even rank and you can use a lot of different tools for checking to see where the rankings are. You can use seomoz, you can use Whoosh Traffic or number of other tools to track it and you can do this typically on sites that you don’t even know because all you’re doing is your plugging in keywords and you’re finding out where those websites rank in Google for those keywords.

[19:39] Rob: Right. So, if you want to do a quick check, you know, we used to use Scroogle.org but Google shut them down.

[19:44] Mike: Uh huh.

[19:44] Rob: So now I had control shift end in Chrome and that gives you a new incognito window which means do not logged in and there’s a no history type to it. So, now I’m finding myself hitting control shift end like twenty times a day any time I want to check where I rank or anyone else ranks for a keyword and I don’t want all of Google’s personalized junk in there. So you can also do that just for one app but yeah, if you want to track competition overtime once you’re actually in the niche then you definitely want to get their information in their one of those tools we mentioned.

[20:12] Mike: Yeah. The other thing that I find those tools useful for is if they’re not ranked on the first or second page and you don’t feel like going that far down to try and find where they are, then that’s where those tools become a lot more useful but as you said, it’s more for tracking those since overtime. Something else you can do is you can leave the page source for their web pages and see if they have done things that used to help you out but now don’t do so as much anymore. So for example if they use the meta keyword tags in their HTML.

[20:44] Those used to actually serves some useful purpose in Google and Google would kind of look at them and would use those in ranking you but they come out and they’d said, “No, we don’t do that anymore.” And people trying to be aware of it. Those keywords don’t do anything and they essentially just tell your competition what keywords you’re targeting. So if they have those things in there and they’re trying to target those, then chances are good that they probably don’t necessarily know a lot about SEO or they’re just new at it and both of those things kind of bode well for the niche that you’re looking at.

[21:16] Rob: Or they’re old at it because I definitely have some sites that are still up that had been up for years that I haven’t gone and deleted all the keywords from. So obviously something probably to have a VA do but that could be other case.

[21:29] Mike: So one things that I’ve also found useful is going to a competitor site and not even actually looking at it but just kind of browsing to it and then looking off to the side of the monitor and just seeing if there’s anything that comes in to your field of vision on the website that draws your eyes to it and just look at that. And obviously, there’s tools out there to tell you what people are looking at on a particular website but don’t usually want to pay for them for, you know, somebody else’s website. And a lot of them use embedded Java scripts. You won’t be able to use it for competitor’s website. But what you’re really looking for is telltale signs that the person who’s running the site is trying to direct people through the site. And if they’re not doing a good job of that, then typically their conversions are not going to be as good as they thought they could be. Another telltale  sign and this is at this website looks like it’s stuck in the ’90s.

[22:18] Rob: You know this is tough because there are — there are some businesses that are built just without the internet marketing part in place, right? They don’t need that. They’re going to use it for Lead Gen. They’re ought to doing more offline marketing or they just have referrals and they have affiliates and they don’t actually need to have all the stuff in place. But if you are going to actually be going after, you know, more of an online marketing hyped approach to this niche and aren’t going to be doing, you know, a lot of the offline stuff and then the stuff that you need, need to think about.

[22:46] Mike: Yeah, that’s a good lead in to the last thing was which is to try and figure out what kind of sales model they’re actually using. I mean if they’re doing everything online or they’re doing everything offline or if they’re using referrals or affiliate to help generate traffic and sales, some of those things are a lot more difficult to determine how effective they are at those sales models. So if they are running the affiliate programs you might want to sign up for those affiliate programs, see what kind of statistics they can provide about how well their affiliate should be doing. Most of them will have a good idea and will be able to tell you, “Oh well, if you put up a website who are affiliates, 85% of our affiliates are doing at least X dollar amount or have this type of conversion rate.” So they’ll be able to tell you those things. But at this point, you really starting to go down the path or spending a lot more time of evaluating that niche and at this point, you should probably have a good idea of whether or not it’s a viable niche to go after and you really just finalizing the last details to figure out whether or not it’s something that you want to compete head to head against them with.

[23:45] Rob: And I think you can also tell a lot about how a company does business and how they did their marketing based on their pricing. Often times they go to a site and you know, if the pricing is 500 bucks a month, then I know that A, they probably have high touch sales. [0:24:00] Definitely doing phone calls or doing webinars and doing that kind of stuff. And if they’re charging 9.99 for something, then I would guess that yeah, their supports probably not the greatest or they’re under charging. They don’t quite know what their products worth. There’s in between of course but you can start to look at the different pricing plans they’re offer and how they space things out to get an idea of A, do these guys know what they’re doing? Do they feel like these prices are reasonable and not under cut? And B, do they even list their pricing on their website? Because if you go there and it’s call for pricing then you know that they’re kind of in that model of the essentially having a customer call and then having the sales person find out how much you’re willing to pay or able to pay and basically doing the enterprise sale 5 grand and up type of sales. So that can tell you that if that’s the only competitors in the market are doing that kind of thing, then perhaps there is room for someone to be below that market.

[24:51] Mike: 37Signals, I mean there’s …

[24:53] Rob: Yeah, could …

[24:53] Mike: A prime example.

[24:54] Rob: I mean those examples a lot of people have done this, right? They go in with fast approach. They basically going with a cheaper price than you would expect to pay if you were to go out and buy the full blown enterprise version. 37Signals is a great example of they built base camp which is CRM software and it’s like what other CRM software can you get for — I don’t even know what they’ve sell for these days. But when they started a push probably 19 bucks a month I’d imagine. I’m sure it was a pretty low price. And at the time CRM software is like hundreds of thousands of dollars.

[25:21] Mike: And then there were a lot of them too. I mean there was GoldMine, Salesforce was an option, ACT was an option. I mean Salesforce was on online as well but both ACT and GoldMine are not necessarily cheap either you’re going to pay. I think I bought a copy of ACT at one point. It was $300.

[25:36] Rob: Right. I was going to …

[25:37] Mike: And that’s for one user license.

[25:38] Rob: Right. And in the same for like Analytics Software like for websites. I mean Google came in an wrecked the market by going free but there were similar stuff going on there what was like a hundred thousand dollars to get good, good Analytics and then it was Ircan that came out and it was — I think it was like either a small fee or it was a monthly fee and there were a couple of other services that came out. And so a lot of people who’ve done this, they take in what’s only an enterprise market and [0:26:00] then they — they basically under cut them and they don’t — you can’t just under cut on price and expect to win but you actually have to under cut on price and then you have to build like a leaner product that isn’t as complicated and doesn’t take as of high touch sales, right? It’s like you have to be able to actually be more aficionado in order to charge less and still make money. That all relates back to looking at prices and try to get a gauge of how people are operating.

[26:24] The last way to get an idea of competition is — there’s a couple of websites that I’ve found pretty handy. We’ve talked about them before but … One is called SpyFu and it’s S-P-Y-F-U. It’s free with a, you know, paid version that’s kind of premium and you can enter an URL and it’ll give you different organic keywords and some paid keywords that SpyFu thinks that this website is targeting. And the other one is MixRank which is very similar. Enter URL and then it gives you places that the website is advertising on. And so this just gives you an idea. And again it’s kind of like compete.com or it’s not going to be exact but they can give you an idea of how much that they might be spending on a paid ads and what kind of keywords they are targeting so that you can take a look at where they rank and how well their SEO is for those terms.

[27:06] [music]

[27:09] Mike: Well I think that about wraps us up. If you have any questions or comment, you can call in to our voicemail number at 1-888-801-9690 or you can e-mail it to us at Questions@StartupsfortheRestofUs.com.

[27:20] Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Outta Control” by MoOt, used under Creative Commons. If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider writing a review in iTunes by searching for “startups”. You can subscribe to this podcast in iTunes or via RSS at StartupsfortheRestofUs.com.where you can also find a full transcript to the podcast. Thanks for listening.  We’ll see you next time.


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4 Responses to “Episode 77 | How to Determine Competition”

  1. mark stephens says:

    I was interested in your comments on forums as being a bit ‘old-fashioned’ and being replaced by social media. Do you not think that if you can keep the question levels up, they are still a good source of SEO and also a way to differentiate your site? Do you really want to lose that to Facebook?

  2. Jian says:

    On the topic of slickdeals and fatwallet, as I am always thinking to do a search engine, so here is what I did. I made a single page that contains all the slickdeals hot deals, about 10 pages of the latest titles/links.

    That is my programming exercise and also I am planning to develop that more into a search engine, who knows, maybe I can beat Google, or baidu.com 😉

    On the topic of less niches these days, there are more people on the planet, thus of course, more competition for niches 😉 But, I have a different thought also.

    There are plenty of niches, but if you are not willing to move onto those new niches, they you will find out that there are more competition in your niche.

    On forums going out of style, I am not quite sure. Sites would always want a forum as an area for people to chat.

  3. Great episode guys!

    A few comments:

    1) Forums have always been a bad way to do support: making your customers crawl through forum threads isn’t a good way to take care of users! Email and phone support are the best way to endear yourself to users. At our company, we manage support tickets with Desk.com (although http://charmhq.com looks intriguing).

    2) Basecamp isn’t CRM software! Their CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is called Highrise (http://highrisehq.com/). Basecamp is *project management* software. When it launched, it’s direct competition was Microsoft Project. You were correct about price: they launched just below $20.

    3) You’re making some assumptions about visiting a competitor who has an “outdated website.” We just updated our site, which we haven’t really touched since 2004. What were we doing? Serving customers! Our business was growing so fast from referrals that we literally didn’t have time to update it. With limited time and resources, we focused on building our product and doing great customer support. You can see our *new* site here: http://industrymailout.com

    Love the show; just left you a glowing review on iTunes!


  4. aStartup says:

    Slick deals . net and fat wallet . com are crowd sourced deal sites. They work for chain store clearances because employees and customers list deals they see. The deals are potentially local [YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary)] or regional/national deals. The idea is to alert the group to deals that they can get which is why a mom and pop store isn’t listed. The deal should be potentially available to a wide cross-section of the US population.