You can deny it all you want but your competitors are out there and you are both eyeing the same target market. Even if your products and services are bigger and better, turning a blind eye on your competition could affect your standing in the race. Whether you like it or not, keeping tabs on your competitors is part of the business game.
“By monitoring competitors on an on-going basis, you get to know their behavior and so can start to anticipate what they will be likely to do next. You can then plan your own strategies so that you keep your customers and win (not steal) customers away from competitors,” said Arthur Weiss, managing director of Aware, a UK-based company that helps business keep their edge against competitors.
But don’t worry, you don’t need to hire a secret agent from an intelligence company to gain competitive knowledge. Here are some techniques small and medium-sized businesses can check out their competition.
Stalk brands online.
Thank goodness for search engines. With a laptop, Wi-Fi and a little bit of search engine know-how, you can type in the names of your competitors and see what they have on their websites. You can also check their most recent marketing campaigns and promotions online.
Keep tabs on your top competitors’ online activities for the past months or year and from there, you can see what kind of promotions they release on a regular basis. The best way to do this is to check out their social media accounts and sign up for any e-newsletters or online magazines they produce.
Harness the power of Google.
And we don’t just mean the search engine. One of Google’s products, Google News Alert is a free, fast and efficient way to learn about your competitors’ most recent news. Create a Google account and log on to www.google.com/alerts. It will ask you for keywords that you want to create an alert from. Type in names of your competitors and maybe top officials in their organizations. You will get an alert every time a news article or an online post appears with your keywords mentioned. It’s a good way to track online activities so you can stay ahead and grab any opportunity that will be beneficial for your business.
“You can see where your competition is getting featured, quoted, or published. You should see who the reporter, editor, media professional, or influencer is, and look them up on LinkedIn. Let the media inside your social media community so they can see your value and why they should feature you too,” said LinkedIn marketing expert Kristina Jaramillo.
Do some field work.
Do some stealth work and attend a conference or a trade show where your competitors participate as exhibitors. It’s a respectable way to check your competitors in the field and experience how they deal or win customers by promoting their products or services on the spot.
“We attend these conventions anyway so we make sure to visit competitors’ booths while we are there and observe their interactions with customers, pick up literature, and check out the quality of their products. I am always shocked that most of them never visit our booth,” said online retailer PepWear’s marketing head Amy Lewandowski.
You can go further by pretending to be a customer and see how their people interact with potential consumers. If you’re recognizable to your competitors, you can hire interns or assistants to do it for you. Make sure to get some brochures, promotional items and sample products for reference.
Befriend your competition.
“Keep your friends close, your enemies closer.” We all know the saying and in business, this age-old adage can actually be pretty helpful. When business owners become friendly, their casual conversations can often lead to talking shop where they can compare, business updates and that one thing many startups do not have access to: experience.
When business owners become friendly, they start operating using similar information and business updates which lead them to arrive at parallel decisions. This could be advantageous when one competitor decides to raise the price of his goods. Rival-friends would follow and everyone benefits because of the friendly competition.
“A personal relationship between CEOs is going to tend to reduce rivalry. That can only be good for both companies,” said Professor James D. Westphal from the University of Texas. Westphal conducted a study of CEO rival-friends across 293 companies.
Knowledge is power. Competitive knowledge is even more powerful. Using the suggestions above, you can now answer some basic questions about your competitors. Here’s a short questionnaire that you can follow to form the basic idea about how your competitors operate.
1. What do they do to engage their consumers on social media?
2. Do they conduct surveys in exchange for free items?
3. How digital-ready are your competitors?
4. Do they have a mobile app for faster reservations?
5. Can consumers purchase items online using e-banking services?
6. What do your customers think about your competitors?
7. What can you do that your competitors have not yet done?
8. In what areas are your competitors good at? Can you do better?
Now go get them!
Upon answering the basic questions above, tweak several aspects of your day-to-day operations using the competitive knowledge you have gained.
Are you ready to go head-to-head with your competitors? Or are you planning to set up a business in Singapore and is still testing the business arena? Give us a call today at Richmond so we can help you get started.