Four things you don’t know about your competitors

(that may hurt your business)

Gathering useful competitor intelligence is essential to making strategic business decisions.

Gathering useful competitor intelligence is essential to making strategic business decisions that will help your business win more sales and attract more customers.

Here’s what you should be learning about your direct competitors – along with tips to obtain the information.

Pricing

Not every sale comes down to pricing, but it’s important to have a sense of how your products and services compare with what’s on the market. Getting a grasp on what’s out there – and at what cost – can help you fine tune your business pricing strategies. It can also spark some innovative ideas for new offerings.

Make it a habit to scan your competitors’ online catalogues or call and request a price list. Go over their website carefully for rate cards and pricing details. If the information is not available online, you (or someone you trust) may physically check prices within the competitor’s location.

Branding

Don’t underestimate the importance of branding. When it’s effective, branding can give your business a real advantage in a competitive market.

Often a company’s mission statement and core values (the foundation of their brand) can be found right on their website. Look to these documents, a company’s logo, and their packaging and promotional materials to find out what you need to know about:

  • The demographic they target.
  • Their brand promise (what customers can expect when they buy).
  • The qualities they want their customers to associate with their company.

Although you’ll base your branding on your own company’s unique core values, gaining intelligence about your competitors’ strategies will help you differentiate your brand so it stands far apart from the rest.

Marketing and Sales

Online tools make it easy to discover your competitors’ approach to attracting prospects and converting leads – which is important because it can help you improve the effectiveness of your own marketing and sales strategies.

  • Subscribe to your competitors’ blogs and sign up for their newsletters. Set up a Google alert to be notified when competitors are mentioned in the news, on blogs, and discussion forums.
  • Use a free tool like SEO Report Card to track how your website compares to your competitors in terms of search engine rank, keyword effectiveness, trust metrics, and link building.
  • Monitor your competitors’ social media presence with a performance metrics tool like Fanpage Karma, which tracks audience growth and the number of fans for any company Facebook page.

By the end of your competitive recon mission, you should have an excellent sense of your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses – as well as where your brand fits in the market’s big picture. You’ll be in good shape to promote what makes your company unique, and your brand the preferred choice for your ideal customer.

Next steps

  • Review your internal business metrics regularly alongside the data you mine on your competitors when making strategic business decisions.
  • Consider working with a marketing agency that uses business intelligence technology to help small businesses develop their brand strategy.
  • Use the Scotia Plan Writer to draft a business plan based on your competitive intelligence.