When you’re excited about a new course idea, it feels like nothing and no one can stop you. The optimism wanes as soon as you face the online course market’s reality: hundreds of others have had the same idea and probably target the same learners.
So how do you differentiate yourself from others? Why should learners choose you and not them?
Competitive analysis is all about identifying your potential competitors and paying attention to what they do. Businesses of all kinds and sizes research their competition periodically to improve their products, sales, and marketing strategies. Similarly, experienced course creators keep up with trends and how their competitors manage their businesses and courses.
In a nutshell, if you want your business to be profitable, you need to understand how the e-learning market works and what’s available out there, not just your corner of the internet. Here are the four main benefits of doing this:
Identifying new opportunities in the online course market
Being an entrepreneur is all about identifying new opportunities, but even if you’ve been in the industry for a while, you know that some areas are more dynamic than others. In e-learning, brand new trends spring up like mushrooms, so creators often have to adapt quickly. Identifying future trends is often more important than knowing what’s hot and popular right now.
Finding out who your competitors are and what they do means that you can come up with fresh ideas that others haven’t tackled before you. They are the so-called gaps in the market. For example, let’s say that most personal finance courses talk to young professionals, but you can reach a different audience whose needs aren’t covered by what’s already out there. People in creative industries might need these courses now more than ever.
You can differentiate your learning products and offer something extra or unique by knowing what’s already out there.
Identifying your strengths and weaknesses
Now you might say: I know the strengths and weaknesses of my existing or future course, I don’t need to analyze this and that. However, your strengths and weaknesses don’t exist in a vacuum. They are strengths or weaknesses in a specific context, compared to other businesses and other courses.
Looking at what your competitors do well and what they don’t do so well opens up new opportunities for improving and scaling your business. It helps you face the realities of the market and assess what you can do differently or what to do in the future if this isn’t the right time for growth.
Again, a self-paced course is passive income, so doing this work now ensures that you’re looking to make a profit for years to come.
Finding new e-learning trends and ways of teaching
Again, e-learning is a super dynamic area in which platforms are continually improving, and the methods of delivering content are reinvented to fit learners’ needs.
An example is moving to video content instead of writing content or hosting live sessions from time to time on social media platforms to promote your courses. Automation and gamification aren’t new trends, but they may well be the features that’ll make your courses stand out from the competition.
You don’t have to implement everything your competitors do, as you should focus on your learners’ needs first and foremost. However, it’s good to know where you stand and which benefits you should promote intensely to attract learners.
Adjusting your marketing strategy
The most significant benefit of doing a competitive analysis is adjusting your marketing strategy. Your unique selling proposition has to convince learners to buy and choose your products. To achieve this, you need to know what the competition has to offer.
Through researching the competition, you can also identify gaps in your strategy. Maybe their landing pages pack quite a punch. They make use of storytelling to present the benefits of the course, and sales are skyrocketing. Or, they invest a lot of time in engaging their audience on social media.
This research type helps you decide how to launch your course, which marketing tactics to use, and even set a pricing plan for your courses.
Competitive research creates more diverse products, making your business more profitable and creating more value for learners. Big companies invest a lot of money and time in this, but it won’t have to break the bank. To learn from your competitors, all you have to do is know where and how to look, which will be the subject of my next post, so stay tuned for more!
Graham is the CEO and Founder of CYPHER LEARNING and INDIE. He is a serial entrepreneur, e-learning enthusiast, published author, and educator.