It is not only the big companies that can benefit from researching the competition, small businesses can also gain quite a bit of insight into their industry and their progress as a business, from competitors. Renowned digital entrepreneur and life coach, Anik Singal says keeping tabs on competitors may help small business owners with ideas about where they need to be in the future and how to get there.
He advises that startups and small businesses must remember that keeping an eye on the competition does not suggest that they are imitate them, but they (startups) must be able to take what they do well and do it better, and take advantage of their flaws by providing a better service for consumers. Here’s a summary of his recipe on simple ways small businesses can keep an eye on the competition.
At the end of the day, it’s about survival of the fittest and with a healthy competitive market, innovation will prevail and consumers will ultimately get better service. While most businesses would focus on direct competitors, it helps to also look into what your indirect competitors are doing.
How to keep tabs on your competitors
This article does not exhaust all the possible ways you can watch what your competitors are doing. Sometimes, you are going to have to be ingenious and look in unusual places to gain useful insights.
Get your employees involved
Whether you have four employees or a few dozens, get everyone involved in the process of tracking the competition. They must understand the importance of the business being on top of its game and how watching what competitors are doing can help.
Follow public opinion
Public opinion is significantly easy to pick up these days with the prevalence of social media. Look out for comments posted by real users of your competitors’ products and seek out product reviews. Whether it’s good reviews, bad reviews, or those somewhere in between, consider them free advice to improve your own products. Not every consumer will take the time to post their opinion online, so where you find any, treat them like gold and use the knowledge you gain to avoid making costly mistakes in your product design.
Don’t stop at Google search
While you’ll begin with a Google search or by visiting your competitor’s website, you can gain further insight into the competition using a variety of tools supplied by Google or relating to Google search results and AdWords campaigns. Such tools include Google Alerts which shows you what your competitors are up to, and Google Trends which is helpful for staying on top of the latest trends in your industry and comparing your company to others. Another useful resource is SpyFu which lets you research what Adwords and keywords your competitors are buying.
Become a social media stalker
While businesses are unlikely to leak any secrets on social media, watching your competitors’ social media channels can give you a peek into what they have up their sleeves. As digital marketing guru, Anik Singal, puts it, you’ll be presented with an opportunity to react proactively before you are cut out of a business opportunity. Remember, this doesn’t have to be a one-man job, as your entire team can actively check out different competitors’ social media channels during their leisure time.
Hire the competition and watch who they’re hiring
Bearing in mind that no one knows what goes on within an organization better than the employees, an effective strategy will be to hire employees from competing businesses. They will especially be of help if they were disgruntled by their former employee. It also helps to watch who competitors are hiring and what positions they are looking to fill. You might find some useful clues this way.