Every business has competition at some level. It’s tempting to ignore your competition (it may even be hard to speak their name), but there’s great value that comes with watching them closely; namely, you can learn from what they do in order to improve upon your own product or service.
By paying close attention to your competition, you can learn from both their successes and their failures. In fact, at the end of the day, what you learn from your competitors might be indirectly responsible for the next big thing from your own company. It’s all about paying attention to what they’re doing so that you can do it better.
Take Note of Their Competitive Advantage
As good as your business is, your competition is likely doing at least one thing better than you. Of course, if you’re better than they are at everything you do, then this whole article is moot and you don’t have to even acknowledge their existence. Realistically, there’s at least something that they’re doing better than you. What is it? How are they going about it? Take notes on what they’re doing that’s better, learn from it, and then up the ante by doing it even better.
How Do They Approach Marketing?
Everybody knows how crucial marketing is to the success of a business. Learning about how your competition markets will give you incredible insight for your own marketing campaigns. Who is your competition targeting? How are they utilizing social media? What features do they have on their website? Do they have a mailing list that you can sign up for? By its nature, marketing is a hit-or-miss venture; therefore, you can improve the probability of hitting a home run with your next marketing initiative by learning from your competition’s marketing successes.
What’s Their Budget Look Like?
Both you and your competition have a finite amount of resources to work with. Therefore, how a business budgets their resources tells a lot about how they run their company. In addition to general budget information, you can learn a lot by discovering who your competition's vendors are and what they charge. By looking at cost factors like these, you may even learn why your competition is able to charge less than you for the same products and services.
How Do They Onboard and Train Their Staff?
The caliber of employees that a business hires greatly determines its success. If your competition is drawing more talented personnel than you are, then you’re going to feel it in several competitive arenas. Where is your competition drawing their staff from? They might be advertising openings in different places than you are. What are they paying their people? It can also be helpful if you can learn about your competition's training process for new hires. They may be teaching their staff tricks of the trade that you’ve not even considered.
Image is Everything
You’ve worked hard to portray your company in a certain way, but what about your competition? How does your market view your competition? What are they known for? When people think about both their company and your company, what are the differences that stand out? Doing this kind of market research will be very revealing and may even show you areas where your own image is lacking. One way that you can do this is with a compare-and-contrast chart. Additionally, you can interview your competition's satisfied customers in order to discover what makes them loyal to their brand.
At the end of the day, you can get your best ideas by looking at what your competition is up to. Just keep in mind that they’re probably watching you too.