Before starting a business or introducing a new product or service, it’s important to know who your competitors are.
Small business owners often neglect to do so because they feel that they are too small to worry about it. It will take too much time, or their products or services are so unique that they have no competition.
As a small business owner, understanding how your competitors run their companies is an important element of your success. By identifying and analyzing your competitors you will find out:
- What services or products they are offering
- Their Unique Selling Point (USP)
- The trends in your industry
- How your potential clients/customers will be comparing “them” against “you”.
- The needs that are not being met in your market.
- How you can improve your products or services and define what makes you unique.
Your competition might be more varied that you think. For example if you own a gift basket business, other local gift basket shops are not your only competition. You are also competing against local florists, gift shops, department stores, discount stores, online stores, as well as other businesses competing for the same disposable income such as restaurants to name just one.
Once you identified your competition, the next step is to find out what your competitors are doing. This will include both desk and field research.
- Check their website. The door is open, come on in. Find out what products or services they offer, how the website is organized. Make notes of any good ideas that you can put your spin on.
- While on the website, join their mailing list, follow them on social media.
- Monitor some or all your competitors with Google Alerts. You can also set up Google Alerts for your industry in general.
- When you go to networking events, be friendly, greet your competitors. Try a “how is business?” or congratulate them on a new contract or award.
- Visit their booth at trade shows. Get copies of their marketing collaterals.
- Drive by their location and make notes of what you see.
- Secret shop to find out how they are interacting with potential clients/customers.
- Talk to those who have direct contact with them including customers, vendors, and employees.
There is a famous quote from the Art of War that applies to this post:
Know your enemy and know yourself, and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster. – Sun Tzu
My Marketor’s Translation: Know your key competitors and know your Unique Selling Proposition, so you can differentiate your business and win the marketing battle without disaster.
Related Post: Do You Have A Unique Selling Proposition?
Always treat your competitors with respect. While researching your competition, you might find a niche that only you can excel in and who knows? Those competitors might become your best source of referrals.
P.S. If you don’t have the time to do it all yourself, contact MyMarketor. We are ready to help you GET IT DONE.