Negosentro | Some people believe that your business doesn’t have to be concerned with what the competition is doing, as long as you have amazing products and services. While that sounds good in theory, it doesn’t always work out if your goal is to boost profits and the competition is attracting your customers. Depending on your industry, there could also be an issue if you happen to launch a product at the same time as a competitor.
Frankly, it would be great if you had a copy of your competitor’s business plan and marketing strategy – it would make life a lot easier. Since that probably won’t happen, you can use the ten steps below to gather intelligence on your competition.
- Clarify the Type of Intelligence Needed
It’s important to understand competitive intelligence. For starters, most businesses are interested in the competitive landscape since it’s a factor in the business strategy of a startup. Why? Because leaders should know what’s happening in the market, including which competitors are achieving success and what type of marketing is generating sales, among other details. To some degree, it’s about product positioning and knowing how to best present your products to consumers. Before getting started, you’ll want to define the type of intelligence that should be collected.
- Get Feedback from Customers Lost
Sometimes the first step is gathering information from customers about their experience with your brand. There are companies like ScoutMI that provide exceptional services in the area of customer experience and market intelligence. If you have a way to collect data electronically, perhaps by email, you can solicit information from customers regarding their experience when shopping. This can include whether or not they plan to buy from you again. If it’s a customer that’s dissatisfied, there’s a good chance that they will head over to your competitors website or shop.
The information provided will tell you what your competitor is doing right. While there is information obtained on your competitor, there will also be data about areas of improvement within your business.
- Ask Existing Customers the Right Questions
When gathering feedback from customers, there are common questions that can help you understand why they chose your competitor. For instance, you want to ask about their satisfaction with your products or services. You’ll also want to find out how they found your business. Specifically, you need to know if your marketing messages were effective. A key question is regarding changes that can be made to the level of service provided. In addition, you should ask about their level of satisfaction with your products and services.
- Obtain Insights from Your Sales Team
Your sales team is on the front line. They often have a lot of information about customer satisfaction and even which competitors they have shopped in the past or plan to shop in the future. By gathering information from your sales team, you can obtain valuable details that can be used to understand why customers choose competitors. They will also have information about what products and services are most attractive to customers.
- Meet with an Expert
As a result of social media, it’s easy to connect with people around the globe. Whether it’s through LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or some other platform, it’s easier than ever before to expand your network. By doing so, you’ll have access to many experts that tend to post industry-specific information. It’s common for professionals to network over coffee. An expert in your industry with whom you’re connected to online may be willing to provide insights during a quick trip to Starbucks. Just keep in mind that giving is a two-way street, so you should always be willing to share information.
- Read Blogs and Other Sources
We live in a time when businesses are far more transparent about the methods they use than ever before. There’s actually a common belief that transparency can draw more customers. As a result, a wealth of information can be found on blogs, online magazines, and other sources. It’s a great way to learn about what’s happening with your competitor. In a strange way, it’s as if the answers to your questions are hiding in plain sight.
- Attend Trade Shows to Gather Facts
The very purpose of a trade show is to showcase what a business has to offer. There is an extensive amount of information provided at trade shows regarding what a business currently offers and plans to offer in the future. Trade shows are highly attended by competitors and prospects, which makes it a unique dynamic that you are not likely to find elsewhere. Trade shows often last for days and include networking events. There are plenty of opportunities to gain deep knowledge and intelligence on your competitors. This can even happen during casual conversations on the expo floor.
- Take Notes from Speaking Sessions
Depending on the industry, expos usually have speakers. These speakers might include industry experts and representatives from leading companies. When attending sessions with speakers, you’ll want to take plenty of notes because the information shared is often extensive and valuable. Whether it’s a session on innovative technology or trends in marketing, there’s a lot you can learn about your competition.
- Network During Conferences
Failing to network during a conference is missing a tremendous opportunity. In fact, well before the conference, you should research the attendees and make a plan for the companies and individuals with whom you should connect. Most conferences have so many attendees that you will have a difficult time connecting with everyone. It’s best to be strategic so that you don’t miss the most important contacts. You can even schedule short coffee meetings during the conference to glean information from people you meet.
- Pay Attention During Conversations
Whether you attend a conference, expo or meeting, you’ll want to pay close attention to what people say during conversations. Even when you are having a casual conversation with someone, or you happen to overhear others talking, there’s no end to the amount of information you can obtain. While you want to avoid doing anything that’s inappropriate, being attentive is simply a great skill to have that can help you make informed decisions. There have even been stories of people sitting behind their competition during meetings and overhearing information of value.
As you collect intelligence on your competition, keep in mind that unethical practices should be avoided. Collecting information doesn’t require doing anything that’s illegal or inappropriate. You want to make sure your business maintains integrity.