Competition. It’s very important. It keeps us sharp and continually working to provide the best product or be the finest version of ourselves. We can also learn a great deal from our competitors:
- What to do. What is your competition doing right? Without stealing someone’s ideas, how can you apply successful practices you observe to your own business strategy?
- What NOT to do. You can observe and learn from poor customer service the same way you can learn from good.
- Who is truly your competition. Once you set about analyzing other businesses doing the same type of work you do, you may be surprised to discover that competition in general is not necessarily your direct competition. (Keep reading for more on this.)
- Where can your business fill a need? What are customers like yours saying about what they need, and what do they wish was different about businesses like yours? Do you see any patterns that indicate a gap that needs to be filled? That gap is where your business can make a difference. Once you are there, only someone else working in that precise space can truly be considered competition.
So how can you find all of this information?
- Get Googling. Search key words for your industry in your geographic area (mostly state, region, and city). See which businesses and what information comes up. Recent news stories and customer reviews are great places to look.
- Pay a visit online. Check out the websites of your competition. Analyze them for style, efficiency, mobile-friendliness, keywords, and how they utilize conversion tactics and calls-to-action. There are some great tools out there to help you with this.
- Follow follow follow. Watch what your competition is doing on social media. Are they engaging with their customers? How do they handle conflict? Are they blogging? But don’t just watch – actually become a follower. Try to make a genuine connection. You never know – you may end up forming a great networking/mentoring relationship.
- Shop around. It’s a little old school, but if it makes sense for your industry, mystery shopping can be a great way to check out what your competition is doing.
Competition is not something to be feared, but something to always be aware of and appreciated for the value it offers.