In either case, staying abreast of what steps your competition is taking in terms of branding, new products, and marketing can only broaden your understanding of the marketplace.
Over the years, I have developed a good network of frenemies – competitors I respect and who are up for a good gossip session. I’ve gotten some of my best marketing information from my frenemies at the bar after a long day at a trade show.
For small and medium businesses in niche markets, there is often no published market data that you can access — at a reasonable cost — and no annual reports to mine for data. However, with an investment in time, you will likely find a treasure trove of information on your markets.
Here are 5 things you can learn from your competitors
#1: Product Trends
Check out competitor catalogs and websites to see where they are investing their marketing dollars. Most companies are not going to put a large investment in a product launch without some sense that there is an existing market for that product.
#2: Manufacturing Techniques
YouTube is a gold mine of videos with your competitors often proudly demonstrating their techniques. Are they better at producing your parts than you are? What can you learn that can improve what you do now?
#3: Customer Service
Your customers’ provide a means of looking into the souls of your competitors. After all, your customers have more than likely bought from or been pursued by your competitors but they are your customer. You have earned their business. Why is that? Is your quality better? How about your customer service? This is your value proposition — share it with the world.
#4: Social Media
If you are not using Social Media – START! If you are, get to know what your competitors are doing on social media and get better at it. Look through your competitor’s social profiles to get a sense of what they are doing well and what they are doing poorly. Follow your competitors on the various social media platforms. Look through your competitors’ social media profiles to get a sense of what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. Is their brand consistent? Do they have branding continuity across platforms? Do they offer discounts to their followers? How often are they posting? What are their customer comments?
#5: Don’t Make Their Mistakes
Failures are often more visible than successes. Understanding what your competitors are doing wrong is as important as knowing what they are doing right. Avoid their mistakes and you will be ahead of the game.
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