Reverse engineering is the process of making a reproduction of another’s product/service by tearing it down and figuring out how it works in hopes of duplicating or producing better value.
Doing this process presents a lot of great benefits in business:
- It greatly reduces the cost of research & development
- It allows you to understand why it has an impact on the market
- It can help you better understand the competition
In this five-part series, I want to take you through a series of reverse engineering procedures that will allow you to tear down your competitors to see what really makes them tick. You will gain an edge on the competition if you understand their fundamentals – this gives you the “one-up”.
The series will comprise of the following (which you may use to jump around):
- Reverse Engineering their Advertising
- Reverse Engineering their Content
- Reverse Engineering their Social
- Reverse Engineering their Sales
- Reverse Engineering their Brand
Whether you know it or not – your competition is doing this to you. The competition is keeping close tabs on you; they may even be your customers to get on the inside!
But enough of all that… let’s get into the top of part two of the series: Content.
Understanding the Competition & Content
Understanding the competitions’ content, strategy, and marketing initiatives is, perhaps, the easiest set of actions for this five-part series because the information is right out there in the open.
You can find this information through a variety of means:
- Seeing which content is shown in the “popular” section of their sidebar
- Keeping track of how many social shares they receive on posts
- Looking at the number of comments on the posts
- Viewing the piece from the perspective of a customer (to get a feel for tone and direction)
The places where you’ll find all this content are the usual channels:
- Business blog
- Guest posts
- YouTube videos
- Slideshows and whitepapers
To make this easy – I’ve gone ahead and put together a simple set of actions for you:
A. Go to their site and take a look at their “popular posts”
Write down their current hits and use this, later on, to come up with ideas of your own knowing that these are ones the community already enjoy.
B. Subscribe to their newsletter
This way you can see how they transition content consumers into their list.
You can now also monitor and find ways to create better email through this, too.
C. Solicit a guest post (or read their guidelines)
Come at them anonymously with the intent to publish a guest post about the industry.
Talking with their people could reveal their current content strategy and what they are generally working. You can take that information and form it into something of your own.
You don’t need to follow up on the guest post, either, since you’ve already got the information.
D. See how they do social and content
Look at how they pair social and content together – including community feedback – to get a grip on what they’re doing to drive people to content and then using that information to create new pieces based on audience reception.
All-in-all it’s just a matter of subscribing to your competition, taking notes, and then seeing how you can do one better on them. What you’ll often find is that a post they’ve created may not touch on all that points their audience wants/needs and it’s this lack of information where you can capitalize.
Check the comments and feedback you find. You will often hear their audience expand on the concept that the producer failed to introduce. Include that in yours and now you will have a similar post with an added weight which breathes additional value to the industry/marketplace.
Understanding your competitor’s content will allow you to reach those coveted top position in search engine indexes because you are providing greater value because you’re building on top of their success.
Knowing their content strategy and scheduling also allows you to publish timely pieces to stay on the cutting edge so it’s your brand that’s being touted as the authority (no one remembers who came second, after all).
Keep tabs on their work, use feedback from their community, and “one-up” them in their content game.