How to keep track of the competition
Competitive intelligence strategies to keep you ahead of the competition.
When you're vying for customers' dollars and loyalty, it’s important to know where you stand relative to the competition. Just like a football coach who is scouting upcoming opponents, competitive intelligence can bring competitors' strengths and weaknesses into focus.
Here are some tips to help make the competitive analysis simple, relatively quick, and well worth the time you devote to it.
Identify competitors in your business’s local area. If your business is primarily location-based, such as a bakery, use online directories such as Google My Business, Bing Places, or Yelp to identify competitors in nearby ZIP codes. Many online business listings also offer reviews for you to analyze as well.
If you’re able, stop into local businesses and assess your competitors by observing their customer service, products, and services. How do they compare to your offerings?
Visit your competitors' websites and social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to see how your competition engages with customers. Twitter is a useful tool for competitive intelligence because not only can you see tweets, you can see what content is generating the most conversations.
Search keywords and terms on Twitter by using the hashtag (#) symbol before a keyword, like #businesscompetition or #competitiveanalysis, which denotes buzz phrases in the industry that are being discussed on Twitter. Use Twitter search directories such as Twellow and Wefollow to find other competitors in your industry. Keyhole.com is a website that identifies which posts are getting the most re-tweets, along with other analytics.
Look at how competitors are using social media: Are they collecting email addresses? Do they offer customer service? If so, what do they offer? Are they offering promotions? Do they link to other social media? Understand where your competitors are succeeding and where they’re falling short to identify ways to improve your own business’s customer service.
Analyze the numbers
Improve your social presence by linking to content on your site, asking poll questions, or adding photos that showcase your company’s highlights. Evaluate customer reviews on sites like Yelp and Angie’s List.
You can also set up Google Alerts, which is a free program that allows you to track any term or name — including your competitors' brands — to keep up with the latest information about your industry, your business, and your competitors.
Network in real life
Many business owners and entrepreneurs think competitive intelligence means behind-the-scenes research on competitors, but it also means learning about other markets, new business strategies, and ways to innovate. The value of engaging with other business owners can't be overstated. After all, as the saying goes, it’s all about who you know — and what they know.
Want to know how your business stacks up to the rest? Use the Competitive Intelligence Tool to get started.