Today’s entrepreneurs face tough competition. As it is, they feel extreme pressure to outdo the competition in order to increase sales and market share. However, while entrepreneurs don’t want other businesses at their tail and stealing away their customers, they don't want to fall out of touch completely. Why? Because in one way or another, the prices they charge, the products they sell, and how much they spend on supplies will be influenced by their competitors.
Sadly though, a lot of business owners these days ignore their competitors. That’s a drawback on their part considering that their competitors are likely keeping tabs on them and carefully planning how to get them out of business. If they want to succeed and stay on top of the game, they have to spend more time looking at what their competitors are doing.
Stephen Phillips, a market research expert, said in an article by The Marketing Donut that “competitor intelligence is something few firms do well, whether big or small. People tend not to do it. But there are some very simple things you can do to find out about your competitors."
Here are some of the good strategies business owners can do to perform a competitive analysis on other businesses:
Talk to your customers
The best way to get information is through your customers. This doesn't need to be a complex process. You can simply ask your customers (either through a phone call or survey form) if there’s anything they want to see you do which other companies are doing. Perhaps they love the interactive hang tags of your competitors or maybe they look forward to the discounts your competitors give each season. Alternatively, you can skip the surveys and send a mystery shopper to your competitor’s store directly to find out what they are doing that’s costing you your customers.
Look at their sales tactics
The best way to maximize the capacity of your sales and marketing tactics is to compare them to that of your competitors. Find out what system they use in attracting, educating, and following up on customers. Perhaps they know of new business card or hang tag printing techniques which you haven’t uncovered yet. Whether it’s direct mail, mobile, or internet marketing, understand that these strategies are what actually turn prospects into buyers.
Personally dig in and uncover the truth
If you are dead serious in understanding your competitors, you should not rely only on idle talks and guesses based on what you see on their website or storefront. You have to get first-hand knowledge on how your competitors work, and the best way to do that is by actually using their products or services. It may seem obvious what they do from afar, but you’ll be surprised with what you’ll find out up close.
Understand, though, that you don’t necessarily have to constantly follow the hottest trends and do everything your competitors do. You can do whatever strategy you think works best for your company. However, burying your head in the sand will never solve your problem. Just remember that when it comes to business, the more informed you are the greater chance you have of outperforming the competition.