Checking Out the Competition

Quick! Name your top 5 competitors.

If you’re smart, you named them quickly, and could come up with more easily. If not, read on.

Understanding what your competitors are up to is key to the success of your business. If you don’t know what they’re up to, how can you one-up them and steal some of their market share? If analyzing the competition isn’t currently part of your curriculum, make it so with these tips.

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Step 1: Know Where Your Competitors Are.

If you sell products, where are your competitors selling? Are they on supermarket shelves? How can you get there too? If you sell services, do your competitors focus on local business, or are they nationwide? What areas are they ignoring? These could be potential new areas for you to expand into.

Step 2: What Will Your Competitors Do Next?

This can be hard to predict, but not if you pay attention. Are they about to release a new technology? Check the patent office to see what they’re filing. Listen to the rumors online (they’re often true). Are they remaking their brand or logo? What’s the reasoning? Maybe they’re trying to appeal to a new segment (maybe the one you cater to). Read the papers, magazines, blogs and websites to make sure you don’t miss anything. Create Google Alerts for each competitor’s name so you get the news first.

 

Step 3: Ask Your Customers What They Think

Depending on your industry, your customers may be approached by your competitors. If you have a good relationship with your customers, you can probably glean a bit of useful information out of them, like what specials your competitors are offering, what new products are in the pipeline, et cetera. This can also help you stay on top with your customers if your competition is offering an amazing deal. Once you know about it, you can top it.

Step 5: When In Doubt, Talk to Your Competitors

You don’t have to sneak around your competition. There are always ways to work together. Get together with the CEO of a competing firm over coffee just to shoot the breeze about your industry. You might walk away with new ideas or even new prospects that he couldn’t take on.

About Susan Payton

Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in marketing copy, blog and article writing. She is the blogger behind The Marketing Eggspert Blog, and also writes on Small Business Trends, Growth University and BizLaunch. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing. Susan Payton on Google+!