One of the most important yet often unvalued requirements when running a small business is to track and monitor competition. Having a clear understanding of competitors’ business operations, such as what they are charging, what clients they have, and what new products and services they are offering, can help a company develop their own successful business models and strategies.
It is vital that businesses monitor competition in order to stay abreast of changes, and keep up with price fluctuations and demands within a specific market. Monitoring competition ultimately helps small companies maintain competitiveness amongst their business rivals. Failing to track the habits and movements of competitors can mean a business is held back, becomes regressive and eventually loses out to their more progressive and competitive rivals.
How can small businesses track and monitor their competition? Small Business Trends caught up with Mike Tinz, VP at Money Mailer, a leader in direct marketing, which offers local businesses a unique portfolio of marketing solutions. Mike Tinz provided insight and tips into how small business owners should track their competition.
How to Track Competitors
Review How Your Competitors are Reaching Consumers
Small businesses reach out to consumers through specific ways and it’s important to have an understanding about how other businesses are reaching and finding consumers. Mike Tinz spoke of the importance of reviewing the media competitors are using to reach consumers.
“Review the competitive landscape and the media your competition is using to reach consumers. This includes where they are advertising and what offers are being leveraged. This will give you significant insight on how to plan your own marketing efforts,” said Tinz.
Review Competitors’ Websites
The World Wide Web has made it easier than ever for businesses to track and monitor their competition. Spend some time looking on competitors’ websites, clocking what services they offer and products they sell, which might be different to those your own business offers and could provide a profitable income.
Compare Your SEO Efforts
Do a quick search on Google using the keywords your customers are likely to use. Does your business appear on the first page, or is it predominantly your competitors? If it’s the latter, you may want to work on the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of your website, implementing the competitive keywords that your competitors are using to rank higher.
Check Out Customer Review Sites
What are others saying about your competitors? You can find out with ease by looking at review sites in your industry. Are there any common complaints or compliments amongst your competitors that you can either adapt or avoid to benefit your own business?
Understand Pricing and Special Offers
Mike Tinz noted the importance of tracking competitors’ pricing and special offers.
“Understanding the pricing and special offers that your competition is advertising will also help you determine how to create a compelling proposition to drive traffic into your business. It will also help you better understand if you are under-priced or even overpriced,” said Tinz.
Use Google Alerts to Your Advantage
Setting up Google Alerts to arrive in your inbox is a good way to help small businesses monitor and track what their competition is doing. Setting up a Google Alert for a specific company or industry will ensure you remain up-to-date on any news stories related to your competitors.
Follow Competitors on Social Media
Social media provides a great platform to spy on competition. Follow your competitors on the likes of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, to learn about their strategies and social media following. If your competitors have a large social media following, you can aim to implement some of their strategies to boost your business’s own social media presence and success.
Learn How They are Communicating with Customers
Mike Tinz advises using the internet to learn how competitors are communicating with consumers.
“Another way to understand your competition is to utilize the Internet to search for marketing activity in the industry and how specific brands are communicating with consumers,” says Tinz.
Buy from a Competitor
An old-fashioned way small businesses can track competition is to buy from them directly. Visit their physical store or their website and chat to members of staff to learn about their products and services. You can then utilize the information you have learned from a competitor to advance your own business.
Speak to Your Own Customers
The value of your own customers shouldn’t be underestimated when it comes to gathering information on competitors. Ask your customers what they like and don’t like about your competitors to learn ow to improve your own business.
In an increasingly competitive business landscape, it is imperative small and medium sized businesses stay abreast of changes and advancements in their sector. Some healthy spying on competitors through these easy to implement techniques can ensure a small business progresses. Failing to track competition can be a downward spiral to failure.
Businesswoman at Desk Photo via Shutterstock
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Gabriella: What if you don’t have any competitors, only substitutes to the real deal? 😉