Today, I want to talk about a sometimes forgotten piece of owning a business – knowing your competition.
Running your own business can be a wonderful thing: be your own boss, make your own hours, do things your way.
While there are certainly many upsides to running the show, it’s a lot of work. On top of everything you have to do for your business, it’s also imperative that you keep tabs on your competitors.
You might not want to believe it, but every business has competitors who are hungry to grab a bigger slice of the pie.
Think about how quickly Lyft came into the picture after Uber. Now they’re the two top dogs in the rideshare market, and they’re constantly battling for the other’s customers.
Keeping tabs on your competition lets you understand them in a way they might not even realize. If you know what their tendencies are, then you can plan your own strategy accordingly and grow your business to new heights.
Everybody starts their competitor research with Google, but that’s usually not good enough. Below are 3 bold strategies you can use to gain unbelievable insight into your competition.
Call Them up Directly
One way to dig up some dirt on your competition is by doing a site SEO analysis, which can be great for picking out shortcomings in their websites; however, this doesn’t quite fit the bill as a bold strategy. Besides, you want way more information than just their content marketing scheme.
Try this one on for size – call them directly. Find their number, give them a ring, and start asking questions. You would be surprised how often business will spill their guts out over the phone. This method works exceptionally well when asking cleverly phrased questions, so you’ll have to do some homework ahead of time.
If you want to know a business’ secret sauce, ask as if you were an interested client. “Hi there, I’m looking to improve my business’ X, and I was hoping you might be able to help. I’ve already talked to Y company (another competitor – two birds with one stone), but I wanted to do some shopping around first. What makes you guys better or different from them?”
This approach certainly might seem a little sneaky, but you can get some killer insights that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to get.
For the super bold, forego the act completely and ask your competitor to be friends. Sometimes that works too.
Talk to Your Own Customers
I know, the last thing you want to mention to your customers is the competition. If you don’t, you could be missing out on some serious information.
Talking with current customers is a good, free way to gain a whole new perspective on your competitors.
Ask them questions like:
- Why do you choose one?
- What do you think about [your competitor]?
- What made you use us instead?
The deeper you can dig the better. Once you get enough solid information you can then use it to improve your product/service or change your game plan up a bit.
Hire the Competition
This one is as bold as they come. If you really want some great information on how your competitors do business, hire them to do work for you.
By doing this, you’ll better understand the solution(s) they offer and, most importantly, how well they do it. As if this tactic alone isn’t bold enough, you can even take it one step further – badger their employees to get the inside scoop on the organization.
Nobody likes to talk more than a disgruntled sales associate or a fed up contract worker. More often than not, you’ll get a ton of juicy information that you can then incorporate into your business’ strategy.
Hey, no one said running a business wasn’t like swimming in shark infested water. They’re doing it too, so don’t feel too bad.
Researching the competition is a necessary evil, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Try out these bold strategies to keep things interesting and gain some killer insights on improving your business.