You can learn a lot from your competition. Sometimes they can be your best source of what to do or what not to do. You should set up a system to periodically research your competition to see what they’re up to.
Some of the things you should consider are:
- Who they are
- How big they are
- What major and secondary product lines they carry
- What their advertising strategy is
- Where they advertise
- How big the ads are
- How often they run
- Where they run them
- Who their customers are
- Who their target market is
- How they contact them
- How they answer the phone
- How many salespeople they have
- Who their salespeople call on
- How often they call on them
- And anything else you can find out about them.
Once you begin to develop files on your competition, and begin to understand who they are and how they operate, you can use that information to gain a tremendous advantage over them.
Just like a General in the Armed Forces, once you know the enemy, understand them, and know where their weaknesses are. Once you do, you can determine what you need to do to exploit those weaknesses and gain the advantage.
On the other hand, if you don’t know their operation, how they do business, and where it comes from, you are operating at a tremendous disadvantage.
Just because you have competition, doesn’t mean you have to be enemies. In fact, your competition can be one of your greatest allies, or sources of additional, untapped income.
One way to capitalise on your competition is to form strategic alliances with them.
If you don’t have a particular product that your customer or prospect is looking for, you may be able to get it from your competition - and still keep that person as a customer.
By letting your customer see that you’re more interested in helping him or her solve their wants and needs, even if it means you don’t get the business… even if it’s from one of your competitors, your customer will appreciate your thoughts and efforts, and reward you by continuing to do business with you, and referring others to do business with you.
If you can’t obtain the product or service from your competitor yourself, perhaps you can refer your prospect or customer to your competitor so they can get the product or service themselves.
In either case, you’ve performed a valuable service for your customer and they’ll appreciate you looking out for them and trying to help them solve their problems, rather that just sending them away to solve them on their own. This goes a long way towards creating customer loyalty.
Your competition can be a great ally for you, and can provide you with very valuable market and marketing research. Take the time to check them out. Find out what they’re doing, and how they operate.
If they continue to run the same ad in the same place over and over, it’s probably working for them. Look closely at that ad. See what you can do to improve it, offer a better value or a better reason for your customers to buy from you.