In business, there’s an old adage – if you’re not progressing, you’re regressing. It’s true in life too but nowhere is it more relevant than in business. Any company that is not learning new things and expanding in some way will soon find its competitors ahead of it. Even if your business competitors are trying to get ahead of you, they also have the potential to be your best teachers.
Why Should You Treat Your Business Competitors As Teachers?
When you compete, it is natural to see the competitor as an antagonist. After all, you’re going for the same prizes and rewards. Moreover, your audiences are the same too. However, while you may compete against them, there is also scope to learn from them. The reason is the same as why you’re competing against them. Consider.
- Your objectives are similar.
- Your target audience is similar.
- Your products or services are similar.
- In fact, it’s even possible that your operating systems are similar.
Like you, your business competitors have resources they’re using to improve their systems, their processes, their marketing strategies, their outreach strategies, their retention strategies, and their customer relationship management methods.
Since innovation knows no boundaries and limits, it is possible that your competitors have found improvements that you haven’t. In fact, it is quite likely that they have. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be competing against each other.
This is why you need to treat them as teachers and try to learn from them – because they may have some knowledge that you don’t; knowledge that may be highly relevant to your company.
So, how can you learn from your business competitors? You can’t just walk up to them and ask to share notes. They’ll just laugh you out of business that way. You’ll need to be circumspect about it.
Because most of the ways we’re listing below are fundamental in nature, companies either don’t follow through on them or do them half-heartedly. However, before you spend heavily on high-end business intelligence experts and software, it might be better to see what the simple tactics can do. Here are our suggestions.
Analyse and Monitor Their Blogs and Websites
Companies need to put themselves out there to get leads. Even though offline tactics of lead generation exist, the most cost-effective strategies are online. Just creating blogs and websites can result in leads. This is why blogs and websites often reveal a business’s lead generation strategies.
Analysing and monitoring your business competitors’ websites and blogs will give you a glimpse into their lead generation strategies. The way to do this is to analyse their websites and blogs at regular intervals.
Studying them once may give you hints as to what they’re trying to do but monitoring changes they make to these online assets will give you the real information. A simple way to do this would be to use the Wayback Machine.
Keep an Eye on Their Social Media Accounts
You can glean all types of key information from studying the social media accounts of your competitors, provided their accounts are active. The reason for this is that social media platforms are much more dynamic than websites and blogs. There are more updates and more variety of content is shared on social media pages than on websites or blogs.
Furthermore, tie-ups and collaborations first show up on social media pages. Similarly, strategy changes or tweaks tend to reflect very quickly on social media campaigns. From social media accounts, you will also get access to what the followers are saying about the business.
Sometimes, businesses even share information on how they’re changing their marketing strategy directly on their social media pages.
Study the Reviews They Get From Their Customers
Studying the reviews your business competitors get from their customers is the same as seeing what their followers are saying on their social media page. The information you will get will give you not only a keen understanding of how your competitors are seen by their customers but also what consumers in your industry expect from their service providers or product manufacturers.
In this regard, reviews will be slightly more specific and nuanced than comments on social media pages. You should look at both negative reviews as well as positive one. The negative ones will show you where your competitors are falling short and give you a chance to add another element to your business. The positive reviews will help you gain parity in areas that your competitors are excelling at.
In addition to this, it would also be a good idea to monitor changes over time in the reviews because that will show you which strategies for responding to consumer feedback work and which don’t.
Subscribe To Their Mailing Lists
Some experts call email marketing the marketing channel with the best conversion numbers. Statistically speaking, they’re very right which is why a company’s mailing list can be a treasure trove of tried and tested strategies. This is particularly true if they’re your business competitors.
Whether they’re running TV advertisements or online contests, they’ll be tying it up to their email marketing campaigns. Therefore, when you subscribe to your business competitors, you gain direct access to most of their marketing campaigns.
How you deal with this information depends on what your strategy is. You can either choose to incorporate their strategies into your campaigns or simply tweak them to suit your purposes. At the very least, you’ll get perspective on what is the norm in your industry when it comes to marketing.
Become Their Customer
There is a way for you to combine all of the above, of course, and then some too. All you’ll need to do is become your business competitors’ customer. This means doing everything above and also trying out their product or service.
This will make it possible for you to compare your products or services with theirs. A truly transparent comparison will help you see your product in a new light. It will show you where it falls short and what it excels at. It will also help you spot opportunities that you may be able to leverage.
Since your offerings may be in direct competition with theirs, it might be a good idea to somehow make yourself unique. Since innovation is as much about knowing the benchmarks as creativity, you’ll need to see what your competition is offering to truly be able to innovate.
As we mentioned above, it is very easy to purchase or sign up for some business intelligence / online listening software suites to do all these tasks but you don’t really need to. If you can spare some time every week, then business competitors’ research should give you some great returns.