The Big 3 of Marketing Research: Yourself, Your Customer, and Your Competition

Author: Keystone Click Team

Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Digital marketing is all about preparation. While it may be easy to throw darts at the wall and see what sticks, effective marketing research will ensure that those darts stick. Let’s explore some exercises you can do to better know yourself, your target audience, and your competitors!

Know Yourself

The first step of marketing research is to know yourself and your current state. This is often the most neglected step of marketing research and is crucial to know who you are and what sets you apart from the competition.

XYZ Statement Exercise

One of the biggest struggles for businesses is being able to define what makes them different from their competitors. Distinction gives you the ability to attract customers because what you do is so compelling that loyalty becomes certain.

Here’s how it works:

  • X – “We do X” (Your product or service)
  • Y – “For Y” (Your target audience)
  • Z – “So they can Z” (The benefit they receive by working with you)

Example XYZ Statement

XYZ statement.

This exercise will produce a statement that showcases what makes you distinct, and in turn, better than your competitors.

Lotus Blossom Exercise

A huge part of knowing yourself is knowing what questions your customers ask you. This helps you get a better understanding of your value proposition as well as how you help your clients.

Lotus blossom exercise.

Here’s how it works:

Start with the center box and add the core questions that you are asked in regards to your business. From there, you take the questions that you’ve written down in the middle box and add one to the center of each of the surrounding boxes. Then, in the outside boxes, you will ask deeper questions in relation to the questions in the center box. You will then continue the process until all boxes are filled.

By peeling back the orange of questions that could be asked of you by potential customers, you will gain a more defined understanding of how you should be positioning your business online.


Before kicking off your marketing efforts, you first need to define your goals. Think of SMART goals as your GPS to get to your desired end location!

Each goal you set should meet the following criteria:

  1. Strategic: Your goal should be strategic and specific to what you are trying to accomplish.
  2. Measurable: You must define how you will prove that you have accomplished your goal.
  3. Attainable: Ensure that your goal can be reasonably accomplished within a certain timeframe.
  4. Relevant: Your goal must be in alignment with your business values and long-term objectives.
  5. Time-based: Set a realistic, but ambitious end-date for when your goal should be accomplished.

SMART goals set boundaries and define the steps you need to take as well as milestones to indicate your progress along the way. With SMART goals, you’re more likely to achieve your goals effectively and in a timely manner!

Know Your Customer

Getting to know your clients helps you better understand what motivates them, what content they enjoy, how best to reach them, where they are in the digital landscape, and helps you understand their perspective.

Interviewing Your Current Clients

There isn’t a better way to get to know your target audience than to have a 3rd party interview with one of your current clients. Although you can conduct interviews yourself, utilizing a 3rd party will ensure that your client is answering questions in a non-biased manner which will give you a clearer understanding of why they do business with you.

Questions To Ask

  • How did they find you?
  • Why do they buy from you?
  • What pain do you solve for them?
  • Who are they trying to impress?
  • Who influences their buying decisions?
  • Where do they obtain their information online?

Having the answers to these questions from a member of your target audience who is a current customer will help you adjust your marketing strategy to reach more of your ideal customers!

Know Your Competition

You’ve heard it before: don’t worry about what your competitors are doing. However, if they are winning the opportunities and you are not, you’ll definitely want to pay more attention to what they are doing to see if you can learn from it, or more importantly, identify a weakness of theirs that will quickly convert into an opportunity for you.

In order to begin analyzing your competition, you will want to pick 3-5 of your known competitors. From there, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where are they showing up online?
  • What is their messaging?
  • What types of content are they posting that is receiving the most engagement?
  • How are they showing up on search engines?
  • Are they using any methods of paid advertising?

Identifying what your competitors are doing online will allow you to find areas that they are strong in, as well as areas they aren’t, in order to find your own opportunities for success.

In Summary

Knowing yourself, your audience, and your competitors are the backbone of any effective digital marketing strategy. Use these activities to jumpstart your strategy so you can formulate a digital marketing strategy that leads to success!

If you’d like help with your digital marketing efforts, contact us, or schedule a 30-minute strategy session to receive the tips and tricks to marketing strategy success!