Entrepreneurship 101: Know Thy Competitors

Knowing who your competitive companies are, and what products and services they are selling, will greatly aid you to create product lines, services and marketing campaigns that can compete and beat them in the marketplace in the new business you are starting.

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This competitive knowledge will allow you to position your retail prices competitively and help you to respond to competitive advertising campaigns with your creative and effective campaigns of your own.

You can use this information to build marketing plans that take advantage of your competitors’ vulnerabilities and enhance your business achievement. You can also evaluate any perils posed by both new products to your market and existing companies.

This article describes how to examine who your competitors are, how to research what they’re preparing and how to capitalize on the learning you gain.

• Who are your competitors – both direct and indirect?
• What you need to know about your competitor’s products or services
• Studying about your competitors
• Listening to your competitors
• How to benefit from the competitor data you find


know your competitors

WHO ARE YOUR COMPETITORS – Direct and Indirect?

All companies face competition.

Even if you’re the only burger joint in town, you must compete with theatres, cocktail lounges, and other businesses where your customers will be buyers instead at your place.

With the expanding use of the Internet to buy goods and to find restaurants, you are no longer just competing with your local firms. Indeed, you could find yourself competing with businesses from all around the world.

Your newest competitor could be a new business offering a substitute or comparable product that makes your product irrelevant.

Competition is not only another firm that might take customers away from you. It can be another item that is being designed and which you ought to be marketing or negotiating a license before another business gets the deal.

Also don’t just research what’s already for sale in your industry. You also must be continually looking for any potential new competition.

You can get evidence to the presence of competitors from:

• Business directories
• Chamber of Commerce
• Advertising in Trade Publications
• Press releases – check out PR Web News Center and sign up for news alerts focused on your keywords
• Trade Shows and Exhibitions
• Surveys
• Internet Searches for similar products or services
• Tips provided by your customers
• Direct Mail and marketing brochures
• Patent Searches for products that are comparable to yours
• Building Planning applications and building work in progress for local firms

DATA YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR COMPETITOR

Monitor how your competitors make sales.

Watch:
• products or services they sell and how they market them to buyers
• prices they charge
• distribution and delivery system
• techniques they use to improve customer retention
• Branding and design values
Company mission statement
• Innovation and business models they employ
• Employee staff numbers and the quality of people they hire
• Their IT profile. Are they tech-savvy and offer e-commerce on their website and use email marketing
• Business owner and what type of person they are
• Their annual report – and then read it from cover to cover!
• their media mentions – review their site and local, their city,  newspapers, radio, television and any outdoor billboard ads

 

How they treat their customers:

Discover as much as possible about your competitors’ clients, such as:
• who they are – geographic and demographic data
• What products or services different market segment customers buy from them – some companies sell to salons for use on clients and then also to retailers to sell directions to consumers.
• What customers think are the competitors’ strengths and weaknesses
• whether there are any long-standing customers or new ones
• if they’ve had a lot of new of customers recently

Predict What They Plan to Do Next

Be proactive and go beyond today by investigating their future business plans, for example:
• what types of customer they’re targeting
• what new products they’re developing
• what financial resources they have

 

LEARNING ABOUT YOUR COMPETITORS

Read everything possible about your competitor’s firms. Search for blogs, articles, and ads in the trade publications and popular generation media. Read all their marketing brochures and sales presentations. Check out their listings in directories and phone books.

Are they getting more press than you, perhaps through networking or sponsoring industry events?
If your competitor is a publicly traded company, you can read a copy of their annual report.

Visit Trade Shows. At trade shows see which of your competitors are also exhibiting in booths. Look at their booths and signage plus promotional activities. How much activity is at their booth and who is visiting them, your top customer!

Go online
Look at competitors’ websites critically. Compare to your and do strength and weakness chart honestly. Engage with any interactive parts of their site to see if you create an even better version for your website. Is the information free of charge? Is it easy to find?

Business websites often publish lots of information that is not typically revealed – such as the history of the company and bios of the officers.
Use a search engine such as Google to discover comparable products. Learn about what other firms offer and how they market their product lines.

Expand outside of your country internationally. With Google Translate you can read many foreign language sites and get helpful tips on what companies around the globe are doing in your industry sector. A savvy and smart way to find successful business models that could be translated into your local market.

 

HEARING ABOUT YOUR COMPETITORS

Talk to your competitors often. Call and ask for one of their sales literature packets or ask a friend to drop by and pick up their annual report.  Also, try asking for a price list and inquire about volume discounts. Now you know at which price point a competitor will discount and at what volume.

Telephone calls and in-person visits will teach you about the behavior of the company, the quality of their marketing materials and the first impressions they make on clients.

You’ll meet competitive firms at industry social and business events. Talk to them. Be friendly – they’re only business competitors, not war enemies. You’ll get a better sense of them as people and how they think.  Who knows, you might need each other one day, for example in collaborating to grow a new market or create a new product line.

 

Listen to your customers and suppliers

Make the most of the contacts with your clients. Don’t just ask how well you’re doing- ask which of your rivals they also frequent and how your firm compares.

Use meetings with your vendors to inquire about what their other customers, your competitors, are producing. They may know or want to tell you trade secrets, but even a few casual tips can help your research project.

Use your discretion with any information these vendors profer. For instance, when clients say your rates are costlier than the competition they may just be trying to get a cheaper deal.

 

WHAT TO DO WITH THE COMPETITOR INFORMATION YOU GET

Evaluate the information you discover about your competitors.

Are there marketplace gaps you can exploit?  Is there a plethora of suppliers in specific segments of your market? If so, you could consider focusing on less competitive niches for greater sales and profits.

List everything that you have learned about your competitors business, however seemly insignificant.

Put the knowledge into three sections:
• What can I learn from to do better in my company
• What are they doing worse than my firm
• What we are both doing the same in the marketplace

 

What Your Competitors are Doing Better Than You

If you’re sure your competitors are doing things better than you, you need to react and make some adjustments. This could be improving customer service, evaluating your prices and updating your product line, to altering the way you sell your line, redesigning your brochures and website and replacing your suppliers.

Try to innovate not imitate.  How can you be better, add more value for the customer?

What Your Competitors are Doing Worst

Exploit the weaknesses and gaps that you’ve now uncovered in your competitive research. This could be in the product line, customer service or delivery models – perhaps even how they recruit and train their staff.

Customer service perception can often be advantage one firm has over another in today’s’ highly competitive markets. Focus on improving your business in these departments to employ the insufficiencies you’ve found in your competitors.

But don’t be smug about your current powers. Your existing products may still need updating and remember, while you are studying them, they, your competitors may also be appraising you also! They may steal and build upon your good ideas. Protect your business product ideas with Legal Zoom – at 10% discount code BEST4B

 

What Your Competitors are Doing About The Same

Why are they doing the equivalent to your firm, especially if you’re not excited by other stuff they do? Perhaps both companies need to make some improvement to grow your industry.

Examine these communal operations and see whether you’ve got it correct. And even while you have your company in line with industry standards, your competitor may be planning enhancements.

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