All businesses, be it large firms or small businesses have competitors who are out there fighting to have your customers. For this reason, you have to carryout a competitive research to know what your competitors are up to. In order for you to position yourself and your products or services within the market, you need to identify your competitors, evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their products or services. Below are simple steps you can use to gather information on your competitors.
First, you have to identify your competitors and know where to find them. Today, everyone rely on search engines for all the research projects they want to carryout. A simple Google search can help you identify all your competitors and give you access to their websites and business platforms on social media. You want to be specific and avoid the load of information Google can bring to you, so you have to include your location in the search to know direct competitors.
Make use of social media platforms to research your competitors. All small businesses use social media to market their products or services. By monitoring their business pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and others, you can pick up interesting facts about your competitors. Go through their comments and see how they communicate with their clients. Follow their posts and make sure you know latest information about them. See what you can copy from them and do better.
You have to analyse your competitors' online presence. Once you have identified their websites and social media platforms on which they are active, pay attention to their Presence online. Look at their content, how consistent they are in posting, the quality of their posts and how they interact with their customers. Check if their websites are optimised and easy to navigate. In case your competitors do the above better than you, stick to it in order to understand were you have to focus your attention and resources to improve your business. In another case, your competitors may not be social media savvy. Use it as an opportunity to reach their customers and market your products or services.
Next, you need to go beyond a simple Google search. Aside gathering information all over the web and presenting it to you, Google also offers services which help you get additional insight into your competition. For example, Google trends helps you stay on top of the latest in your industry. It also helps you compare your business to others and helps you see where people who visit your site go to. Google alerts on the other hand keep alerts for yourself and for your competitors. As a result, you can keep an eye on your competitors and know what they are up to.
Interview your customers and your competitors' customers as well. Customers are reliable sources of information when it comes to finding information about your competitors. Ask your customers what options they got when searching for a business that offers the same products or services like you. Find out who they were getting their services from before you and why did they switch to you. Find out from your competitors' clients why they choosed your competitors and what made them loyal. Answers to this will get you a clear idea of what your competitors offer that customers view it as preferable.
Act as one of their customers. Visit your competitors and ask what products or services they have to offer. Take note of their customer service and how their employees work. It further helps you to know how you want to run your business.
By monitoring your competitors on a daily basis, you get to learn from their mistakes and strengths. Competitive research helps you know your competitors and what they are likely to do next, hence helping you gain competitive intelligence.
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