Ignoring competitors is certainly a mistake that small businesses must avoid. If you choose to turn your back on them, they will walk away with your customers. In order to make sound business decisions that will help you retain customers or entice new ones, it’s important to keep your enemies close.
Here are 3 tactful ways of gathering competitive intelligence:
- Perform basic desk research
A visit to your competitor’s website can help you understand how they are positioned in the market. A simple Google search can provide you with all sorts of information, such as rantings by disgruntled staff or customers, as well as good reviews.
If your competitor is active on social networking sites, then it becomes simple to keep a watch on them. Just becoming part of these groups can provide you with interesting data about your rivals.
Stock market listings can also offer you a good deal of information about your rival companies. The Investor Relations section present on the website can unveil new markets a company plans to enter, along with products it intends to launch in the future. Information related to present and future strategies can also be obtained from here.
2. Make enquiries with your customers
Customer feedback can be one of the best sources to obtain competitor information. Tactful communication is the key here. Talk to them about their personal experiences and perceptions of your business and others in the same market.
Mystery shopping is another way of gathering first-hand experience about how your rivals market themselves to customers. Several visits can help you form an accurate picture about offers and deals they are offering. Remember, it’s vital for your own business to know what your competitors are offering in terms of discounts.
3. Perform a detailed competitor analysis
A robust competitor analysis can disclose interesting findings about your rivals. For example, you may be surprised to discover that you have probably shortlisted the wrong companies as your competitors.
Take, for instance, you own a leather bag shop on a local high street. You may believe that your main rival is the other independent leather bag store ahead on the same road. However, there’s a good chance that you both could be competing with the fancy out-of-town retailers and maybe online leather bag stores as well.
A situation like this where there is more than one type of supplier present in the same area can potentially bring in more business. This is because the consumer may feel that they are getting enough options locally, and may not look elsewhere.
If done systematically, competitor analysis can help you understand your rival company’s strength and weaknesses. This information can then be processed to create an effective strategy formulation for your company.
When it comes to staying ahead in the race, knowledge is power. Investing in quality competitive intelligence can definitely help you in making more informed and proficient decisions for your own business.