One of my mentors online, Ben Hunt, was talking about the importance of research, and I love the way he phrased it: “… research the marketplace to check there’s room, and there isn’t another gnome on your toadstool.”
Your particular “toadstool” could be many things. It could be your profession (realtor, web designer, plumber). It could be your differentiator (price or selection.) It could be your location, or your store hours, or your guarantee, or your training.
The point is that if there’s already a gnome (or two or three hundred) perched on your particular “toadstool”, it’s going to be difficult for you to claim it as your own.
Research is how you avoid this problem. If you’re in the mortgage business, and 3 million “gnomes” are already trying to rank for the keywords, “mortgage yourcity/yourstate”, maybe you should try to rank for “home loan” or “mortgage consultant” instead.
If you’re a printer, and most of your competitors have gnomes positioned on the “low price” toadstool, maybe you should position yourself on the “fast shipping” one.
A few “gnomes” are seldom problematic, but a lot of online marketers run into problems because they don’t do preliminary research on their online competition. Don’t let that happen to you!