Everybody wants to stay ahead of their competitors; to have that edge that makes customers want to come to you instead of the other guy. That’s hard to do if you don’t know what the other guy is doing. Researching your competitors isn’t that hard to do. There are lots of resources available. Some are provided by competitors themselves.
The first, and most obvious, is to simply do a web search. This is not so much to find the information but to find the sources for the information. Google Trends and Google Alerts can also help you stay abreast of the competition by alerting you when anything is posted about them or you.
The easiest way to get the skinny on your competition is to refer to the information they provide. Their websites provide a wealth of information that’s free for the taking. You can find detailed information about their products, their company philosophy, their locations, their workforce, their executives, latest press releases and much more.
Many companies use sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as marketing and recruiting tools. The also post news about what’s currently happening with their organizations. What better way to get the latest information on the other guy than letting them tell you on a daily basis.
Sites like Yelp!, bbb.org, Manta, and others can be a gold mine of information. Customer reviews can tell you what your competitors did that their customers loved and what their customers hated. That can give you direction get some of those customers coming to you. You can also find out what their customers are asking for that you can provide.
Pay attention to how your competitors are marketing themselves, what new products they are releasing, and not only what they’re selling but how. It’s also a good place to see who is friendly with who to get a leg up on possible partnerships or cooperative efforts. You can also find who is looking for those opportunities that could you could be part of.
Make a Phone Call
If you still have unanswered questions, call your competitors and ask what you want to know. By taking the role of a prospective customer and asking the right questions you have a direct pipeline to the people in your competitor’s organization that have the information you need. You’d be surprised to learn how anxious they are to tell you about themselves.