Understanding your Competitors
You need to know as much about your competitors as you do about your clients, but how do you go about it? These top tips take you through the key tasks to work through to help you towards understanding your competitors.
BECOME A CUSTOMER
Put yourself into the shoes of a customer – literally! Visit your competitors as a potential customer (or have someone do it for you). See how they interact with their customers, what their sales pitch is and how their customers feel.
CARRY OUT A SWOT ANALYSIS ON THEM
The SWOT analysis is a common tool to use on your own business, but it can be an effective tool to analysis your competitors. If you can understand their strengths and weaknesses, and what threats and opportunities they might be facing, it can help you to understand their strategy.
LOOK INTO THE PEOPLE
Carry out some research into the people at your competitors. LinkedIn is a very useful tool to look at individuals, and what their working background is. Find out who works at your competitors, do you know anyone they know?
There are a number of ways to research the competitors business online. Just looking through their website, Facebook page and Twitter feed can give you some useful information about current initiatives, and what they believe their key strengths are. Use Google Alerts to find out when your competitors are being mentioned online.
ATTEND INDUSTRY SHOWS AND CONFERENCES
If you are attending shows, then your competitors are probably doing so as well. Visit their stand and find out what they are saying to try and win customers. What are their new products? Pick up any leaflets they are giving out.
TALK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS
When you get new customers, find out if they previously used a competitor of yours. If so ask them why they switched, what was it about your product or service that made them move? If possible, do the same when your customers leave you: find out why. In this way you can gather information about the real reasons customers move between you and your competitors.
Don’t just consider your current competitors, think about the future. What will the industry be like in a year’s time, who might be entering the market? Are there any large national competitors that aren’t currently in your region who might be looking to branch out? Are there any potential newcomers?
LOOK TO THE FUTURE
What to think longer term about what might be happening in your industry. What new technology might there be that is useful for you and your competitors? If you have plans in this direction, your competitors probably do as well. Keep an eye on their communication to see if there is any likelihood of new products or channels.
If you can action some of these tips, they will help you to better understand your competitors, which will, in turn, help you to gain customers from them. But be aware, they will be analysing you too!