Keeping tabs on your competition not only gives you information on what your rivals are up to, but also gives you invaluable insight into your own company. If you're not doing so already, it may be time to use your resources to find out more about your competitors. The more information you have, the better business decisions you're able to make.
What type of information should you find out, and how should you go about getting it?
1. Revenue and threat level. The way to get a rough estimate of how much revenue your competition’s bringing in is to multiply the number of employees by $150,000. Now it’s a rough estimate, to be sure, but having an idea of revenue helps you gauge the number and the size of clients your competition has, which will help you assess the threat level to your company. If the company is much larger than yours, then you can safely focus on some small fish they may be ignoring. If they’re much smaller than your company, then you’ll know they’re unable to handle the bigger clients you’re targeting, which makes them less of a threat.
2. Who's the top salesperson? The most reliable way to get this information is by interviewing one of your competitor's salespeople. Knowing who drives the most business for your competition can help you identify attractive new hires, or it can help you identify opportunities for teaching your sales staff how to improve their sales strategies.
3. Best customers. One of the best ways to determine who the best customers are is to look at the testimonials on a competitor’s website. Businesses are most likely to solicit rave reviews from the clients they’re proudest of. Knowing who your competition is selling to can give you an idea of the scope of their business, and it can also clue you in to clients who aren’t yet being served.
4. New products and offerings. Go to trade shows in your industry so you can stay on top of what’s new and exciting. Being at a trade show puts you in contact with clients you can win, and it keeps you abreast of trends and developments in your industry. You can learn a lot, and you don't have to have a booth—simply attending can give you access to all sorts of inside information.
5. Level of customer satisfaction and engagement. SocialMention is an astounding resource that lets you track your competition’s social media presence, alerting you to any problems or new developments. A flurry of customer complaints on social media can present you with a great opportunity to win over your competitor's clients. You can also pick up social media tactics and techniques that are effective and incorporate them into your own social media campaign, or you can take advantage of problems that crop up with other companies.
6. Company and industry news. Whether it’s a formal press release or an article about your competition, staying current with what’s going on in the news can yield productive results. Set up a Google alert to let you know each time your competition appears in the news. Whether there’s a corporate shakeup or an incredibly successful product launch, knowing what’s going on lets you better situate your business to take your piece of the pie.
7. Top keywords. As more consumers use the Web to search for information about companies and the services they provide, knowing what keywords consumers use is increasingly vital. Alexa.com will give you keyword information that consumers use to get to your competitor’s domain. Co-opting your competition’s keywords can help you attract their clients to your site, giving you the opportunity to get their business.
There’s nothing underhanded about any of these tactics. In fact, if you’re not constantly working to acquire information about your competition, then you’re missing opportunities to come out on top.
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