There is always going to be competition out there for whatever it is you do. There might be other companies that sell the same product or service, or they might sell something similar that people compare to yours. Either way, even if your product is unique (as far as you are aware), you may find that if your competition is strong, they could ‘steal’ customers away from you. So it’s important to know as much about those other companies as possible. That means researching them thoroughly; here are some ideas on how to go about doing that well to give yourself the upper hand.
Do More Than Google
Although a Google search is an excellent way to begin, you will need to do more than that and more than just visiting your competitor’s website to discover more about them. Take a look at their advertising, for example, and work out what keywords they are using. You can then incorporate those keywords into your own campaigns to ensure that your reach is as good as theirs is. That gives you a more level playing field, and you can attract the same customers.
You can also sign up for Google Alerts, using your competitor’s name as a keyword. When they do anything new or interesting, the information will immediately be sent to you via email, and you can have a good read through before formulating a plan to counter their new innovations.
Look At Reports
It is also important to keep track of what is happening in your particular industry, so signing up to receive reports from experts in your sector can help immensely. If you’re wondering how that can help you keep tabs on the competition, think of this: either your competition is reading those reports, or they aren’t. If they are and you do too, you’ll have the same information as them, so they won’t be any better informed. If they aren’t, you will have more information than them, and you can use that to your advantage. Either way, you get more details about techniques and ideas that you can utilize that could put you ahead of your nearest rival.
Look At Social Media
Many businesses are taking to social media to promote themselves and if you haven’t tried it yet, you should; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many other platforms can all provide a great way to keep in touch with your customers and find new avenues to advertise. Social media can also help you to see what your competitors are doing, so it’s doubly useful. You can see what hashtags they are incorporating into their advertising as well as any special offers they are promoting. Even if you don’t want to directly compete, having the information can be useful if a customer contacts you and mentions what the competition is doing; having a plan in place is better than not having one at all.
Reviews and customer testimonials are helpful for customers when they are looking for a new business to use. They can get a lot of information about customer service, the products, and the company in general by reading them. That’s why it’s essential that you read them too; not just about your own company (although this is very useful and will help you to fix anything that might be going wrong) but about your competitors too.
Seeing what they are doing right – and wrong – will show you where and how you can differentiate from them, pushing your Unique Selling Point (USP) a different way so that you can show you’re not the same and that you offer something more, whether that’s the product itself or the customer service aspect that works for you. You can also capitalize on their mistakes this way; find out what they aren’t doing so well at and boost that in your own business to entice customers to come to you who can provide the whole package.
Speak To Your Customers
Engaging with your own customers is important to build a trustworthy brand and make your business more popular. However, it can also be useful to gain information about your competition. It’s likely that your customers will have weighed up their options before coming to you – that means they will have researched your competition. Find out what they thought and how they felt you were different (and better). Don’t disparage the other company, of course, as getting a reputation for doing this can be bad for your business, but do take note of what you’re good at. This is what you need to work even harder at and ensure that everyone knows about it.
Speak To Your Competition
If may not be the most comfortable phone call or email that you undertake, but if you contact your competition under the guise of being a customer (so don’t use your work phone or email to get in touch) you can find out exactly what they are doing and how they are doing it. Just ask whatever questions you genuinely want answers to, and you’ll get the answers; after all, they want to sell you something. Bear in mind that they may well do the same to you, so be careful about giving up too much information if you’re not entirely sure who you’re talking to.
Some competitors go as far as bugging other company’s boardrooms and offices. If you think that someone may have done that to you to find out about your company, you can have a bug sweep to ensure you are secure. You can learn more here.
Another option is to attend a conference that your competition is exhibiting at. You can walk up to their booth and discuss their business face to face, which some people prefer.
Keep Tabs On Who They Are Hiring
If your competition is hiring anyone, take a look at the positions they are advertising. This might give you a clue as to what their next plans are. If they are looking for someone to add to their marketing team, for example, they might be anticipating a brand new – large – ad campaign. If they want an accountant, there could be trouble ahead for them in terms of their finances.