Whether you’re starting a new business or have been in business for a while, benchmarking your competition is an important means of ensuring that your business stays current with your pricing, products/services, promotion, and connection with your target market.
Knowing what your competitors are doing and how they are marketing and packaging their products or services will help you evaluate your business. Continual refinement of pricing, promotional offers to customers, and evaluating where the market is going are all key components of success in business. Gathering competitive information may take time, but it’s worth its weight in gold. With resources available online and offline, there are a variety of ways to research your competition. This should be done periodically.
Call Your Competition
What better way to find out about your competition than to call them and ask them about their products or services? Be prepared to ask and gather the information needed for your competitive assessment, including pricing, product or service details, special promotions, whether or not any contracts or setup fees are applicable, or any other information that can help you gain a competitive advantage.
Check Local Listings
Check out “offline”/traditional advertising publications, including the Yellow Pages/phone books, newspapers, magazines, money mailers, and other localized print pieces that your competition may use to promote their business, as well as TV and radio ads.
More and more small and medium-sized businesses are integrating an online marketing program into their overall business promotional efforts. Online advertising, including free and paid listings, allows businesses to provide highly targeted local ads and information displayed to people searching for products and services. Google™ coupons work very well with local customers. Google places coupons in localized business listings, helping businesses attract new customers. With 63% of consumers researching companies and products online prior to purchase, this is a great outlet to integrate into your marketing plan and to keep tabs on your competition.
There are a variety of free resources online that allow you to measure your competition’s website and online activity.
Web.com Search Agency’s SEO Competition Report provides a variety of rankings, including how your site ranks on Google and Yahoo!®, number of pages indexed, number of backlinks, and page rank. This tool will automatically populate competitors based on the keywords you’re analyzing for your site.
This free service allows you to compare website visitors between sites you wish to analyze.
If you don’t know what your competition is doing online, you are missing the boat, since this is an effective way to gain awareness about your business and obtain new customers. While you’re researching your competition online, make note of the directories, websites, and offers they use to help you build a more comprehensive marketing strategy for your own business.
Make a quarterly calendar appointment to conduct a competitive assessment. You’ll find that by continually evaluating your competition, your own products and services will effectively adapt to the ever-changing market and you will be better able to meet the needs of your customers.
Key metrics when tracking your marketing efforts:
- Increase in online or print coupons redeemed at your business.
- More links back to your website from local memberships or advertisements.
- Increase in website traffic.
- Growth in your internal marketing database of customers and prospects.
- More frequent e-mail marketing messages delivered. Don’t forget to measure the open rate (number of people opening and reading your marketing message) to track any improvement with consistent messaging to your contact base.
Once you start to view your competitors as a valuable research resource, in the end, your customers will reap the benefits.