Even though you’ll have confidence in your business and its strategies, you’ll also spend a lot of time looking at what your competitors are or are not doing.
To run any successful business, it’s important you know what your competitors are up to. However, many companies ignore this as they’re so engrossed in their own company, which leaves them exposed to their competitors. While they’re focusing on their own business, their competitors could be watching their every move, planning how they’re going to start stealing their business.
So, how do you make sure you’re monitoring your rivals?
Do Some Research from Your Desk :
You might be surprised just how much information you can find while you’re sat at your desk. For example, you can go to your competitors’ websites to see how well they’re ranking and what their marketing strategies are. You might even be able to order or download their brochure (just try to use a personal email address so you don’t break your cover)!
By Googling the company’s name, you’ll find out a whole host of things, like reviews that customers have left on different sites or blogs of recommendations that other companies have written. Equally, a lot of businesses will have a presence on social networking sites, which is why it’s a great idea to join these so you can keep a close eye on them.
It’s also a huge bonus if the company is stock market listed because you’ll be able to get even more useful information about them. A listed company will have a section on their site that refers to investor relations – there you’ll be able to see their current strategy as well as their plans for the future. This will include any new markets they’re thinking of entering and any new products they’re developing.
There are also a number of tools that allow you to do research from your desk, too. These monitor your competitors for you, providing you with alerts as and when something happens. For example, Feedvisor’s Amazon repricer will automatically change your pricing so it competes with your closest rivals, making sure you’re never overpriced and that you’re not underselling your products either.
Speak to Your Customers :
One of the best and most valuable sources you’ll have at your fingertips is your customers. They’ll provide you with honest feedback that you can learn from, especially when it comes to your competitors.
Ask them how they perceive your business along with others in the same sector or area. You might even like to do some mystery shopping, asking family and friends to go to a competitor’s website to see how useful they find it. Get them to communicate with their staff too to see what level of service is provided and how this differs from yours. (It might take a couple of visits to get a good idea).
Talking to customers about price is also important because many savvy online shoppers will be driven by the best bargain they’re presented with. Find out if competitors are offering any discounts or incentives before making sure you’re offering your customers just as much, if not more.
Conduct Some Analyses :
By analyzing your competitors you’ll probably unearth some interesting pieces of information. You might even discover that your competitors aren’t what you originally perceived them to be. As you start to take closer notice of them, you’ll often find that those companies you feared the most aren’t actually the biggest cause for concern.
For example, if you have a high-street clothing shop, you might feel as though the other clothing shop around the block is your main rival. However, by looking further into this, you’ll probably find that you’re competing with bigger retailers that are out of town and online suppliers, too. In fact, having more than one similar business in the same area can actually drive more customers through your door because they feel as though the area’s worth visiting. After all, being able to go to two shops is more worthwhile than traveling to one store on its own.
You might also find that your competitors are much more varied. As consumers make choices about how they’re going to save money, you could be competing with completely different services or products that use their spare cash. For example, a customer might be searching for a new dress, but she might not change her mind on the style or brand she wants. Instead, she could opt for a completely different product, deciding to buy the latest iPod because it’s on offer or a restaurant voucher that she can treat her partner with.
It’s not easy to remain one step ahead of your competitors at all times, but burying your head in the sand is even worse. Knowledge is power – so invest wisely in this when it comes to your rivals.
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