By MaryEllen Tribby
Plain and simple.
The reason, I have been successful in so many different niches in the online word, specifically in the Inbox Magazine world is because I know my competitors. And I know them inside and out.
I subscribe to them and keep tabs on just about everything they do.
One of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to learn more about your competition is by searching for them on Google.
Not only will Google help you discover if there are other inbox magazines out there covering the same topic, but Google can also help you uncover any forums or other online communities that reach your main target market.
First of all, don't think of competition as something bad that can discourage you from starting your own inbox magazine.
Instead, think of competition as a way to verify that your market can be lucrative and as a way to see what works. You want to see what your competitors are doing right so you can mimic that. You also want to see what your competitors might be missing so you can fill that need.
Two Heads Are Better Than One
Basically, you want to identify two categories of competition: direct and indirect competitors.
A direct competitor is someone selling the same thing to the same market in the same way as you. If you're marketing an inbox magazine targeted at folks with back pain and somebody else also offers an inbox magazine targeted at folks with back pain and they're selling the exact same thing to the exact same market in the exact same way. That's a direct competitor.
If somebody is a direct competitor, don't look at him or her as a threat. Think of them as a possible panelist for your inbox magazine, or even a possible partner in a joint venture. Don't ever be the person who says, "I don't want to have anything to do with that company because they're selling something similar."
One of the reasons why Agora is such an enormously successful company is because of the cooperation and cross-promotion among the different companies within Agora.
There are approximately 25 multiple financial publishing companies inside of Agora.
Since they're all pretty much selling the same information, they're direct competitors of each other, yet they all cooperate. They're panelists and joint venture partners for one another. That's the way that you should be thinking about competitors too.
If you've selected the right market, then the people in that market will be passionate and enthusiastic about it. They're not just going to subscribe to just one source. People passionate and excited about golf might subscribe to three different golf magazines. Each golf magazine competes with the others, but they can reach the exact same subscriber at the same time.
Direct competitors may be targeting your exact same market, but they can be allies to help all of you achieve greater success by cooperating.
Same Market - Different Product
While direct competitors are trying to reach the same market, an indirect competitor is somebody who is selling something different but targeting the same market. If you're targeting folks with back pain, an indirect competitor might be yoga lovers. They are selling something different to your same customers.
Indirect competitors are not bad. As a matter of fact, your indirect competitors may end up being your best business opportunities. The owners of your indirect competition should see you as synergistic not threatening.
Even though you're both targeting the same market, you're doing it with different products or services. As a result, people who like one product or service will likely want a related product or service as well.
If someone suffers from back pain, they may be interested in mattresses to relieve back pain, medicine that relieves back pain, stretching exercise instructions in books or DVDs that show how to relieve back pain, or devices you can wear to relieve back pain. In many cases, one person will buy two or more similar products that all relate to providing relief from back pain.
The more indirect competitors in your market, the more likely you're in a market with lots of opportunities and interest.
Every market will have direct and indirect competitors, but all competition is good. The more competitors, the more it actually expands your universe by increasing the number of people looking for what you have to offer.
So don't freak out and think, "Oh, my gosh! There are other people doing this!" If nobody else is doing something, that's a clue that there might not be any money in that market so you should probably pick a different market.
Collaboration Is Key
A great way to take advantage of both direct and indirect competitors is to invite them as expert panelists. If somebody sells something totally different than what you would ever think about selling, they can make a great advertiser. So someone could be a panelist, an advertiser, or both.
You want to be in the information products business. You don't necessarily need to sell physical products but information like e-books, coaching, and membership sites. So you might get advertisers who sell physical products. If their ad does well and they keep coming back to buy more ads, then you can look to get into the physical product business too.
Use Google to search using the primary key words that define your market. Once Google returns some results, study the organic and paid listings.
Organic listings are the free listings while the paid listings are the people who buy advertising from Google. Write down your top 5 direct and indirect competitors. Get on their lists (if you haven't already done that) so you can keep track of what they're doing.
Also, if you are really ready to start your own on-line business, I encourage you to pick up a copy of my latest book, Reinventing The Entrepreneur. It will help jumpstart your personal and financial freedom!