Welcome to the Vocal Advancement Podcast! In our first full episode, Heather and Tom interview the phenomenal Kerrie Obert (Speech Language Pathologist and Voice researcher) and find out all about her disastrous first experience in an operating theatre, her reasons…
Here’s the second blog post in our series of marketing basics with advice on how to conduct a competitor analysis and identify what makes your studio unique. Catch up on part 1.
Why conduct a competitor analysis?
When you own your own business, it’s inevitable that there will be others doing the same thing (or something similar). You might think having competition is a bad thing, taking potential business away from you, but a bit of competition is actually pretty healthy. It keeps you working hard to stay relevant to your customers and offer the best possible service.
It’s important to do a regular (e.g., annual) review of other vocal studios and singing teachers in your area so that you have up-to-date information on how many competitors exist and what their businesses offer.
Different kinds of competitors
Although the priority for a competitor analysis is to look at other voice studios in your area, it’s worth remembering that there are different kinds of competitors. When you keep this in mind, you’ll know what you’re up against when trying to attract new customers.
- Existing competitors: Singing teachers like you, bigger voice studios, smaller voice studios, drama schools, singing workshops, singing teachers based in schools, etc.
- New entrants: New competitors—maybe even previous students of yours!
- Substitutes: Those competing for your customers’ time. These will be dependent on your specialty or customer profile but may include other after-school activities, hobbies, professional development courses, or physical therapies.
How to conduct a competitor analysis
Gathering the following information will help you 1) understand how much of a threat each competitor poses, 2) give you inspiration for developing your own studio, and 3) identify any gaps in the market that you could fill.
You might want to keep a spreadsheet and add any additions or differences each year to track changes in local trends. You can find out a lot of information by checking out competitor websites, social media, and word-of-mouth resources, especially via your students and their friends.
If a student leaves your studio for a competitor, try to find out why. Their feedback could provide you with useful information to ensure it doesn’t happen again. (Although, of course, sometimes their reasons will be completely out of your control.)
This list is not exhaustive, but some things to investigate include:
- How many competitors exist within a specified radius (whatever makes sense to your locality)?
The higher the competition, the harder your marketing has to work to break through the “noise.” You may need to invest in greater promotion, or perhaps you need to find a niche that the competition does not cater to. There’s more on developing your unique selling point (USP) later in this article.
Knowing how many competitors exist also helps you understand the buying power of customers. How easy is it for them to shop around and what might be the most important thing they look for when deciding?
- Who do your competitors teach?
Do they specialize in an age group? Maybe they focus on specific vocal issues? Or perhaps they only work with professionals? Find out as much information as you can on who your competitors are targeting so that you can see which most closely align to your own customer profile. These are the ones you need to keep a particularly close eye on.
But also, are there any groups of singers who are being neglected? Is there an opportunity to grow your client base because no other voice studio is marketing to them?
- How much do your competitors charge?
This information might not be publicly available, but if competitors happen to include it on their website, it’s worth noting their fees and, year after year, seeing how they change. This will help you set your own pricing strategy, ensuring you are charging an appropriate rate in comparison to others.
- Do any competitors offer something special?
How do they try to stand out from the crowd? Is it through promotion of their own experience, expertise, and qualifications? Do they offer products and services along with singing lessons (e.g., Alexander Technique, a choir, special workshops)? Do they specialize in something? Do they have a particularly convenient or attractive location?
- How do competitors market their businesses?
How would you rate their marketing against yours? Do they do anything that you could add to your promotional tactics? Do they write a blog or post videos or offer free online resources? Is their social media compelling—does it get much engagement?
Your Unique Selling Point (USP)
You may already be very clear about what makes your business unique among your local competition. For instance, it may be the fact that you’ve studied with IVA and are therefore totally awesome!
But all the information you’ve gleaned from the competitor analysis may reveal how else you’re different from other voice studios in the area. Perhaps you’re offering something you didn’t know was unique.
Identifying and articulating your USP will help you formulate key messaging to communicate what makes your business special and persuade your target audience(s) that you’re the best person to teach them to sing.
It can be a tough world out there, but we all have a USP. Find yours and sing it from the rooftops!
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