Imagine you’re camping for the weekend. You’ve hiked and cooked over an open fire and now it’s time to settle into your tent for the night. You kick off your shoes and climb through the zippered opening, and as you do, you realize you’ve left your toothbrush in the car. Slipping back into your shoes for the hike to the car, you reach for a flashlight.
To borrow grade school language arts, that flashlight is to your hike what scouting the competition is to your business. It sheds light on the landscape and provides important clues for your success and survival.
It can be scary to click on the light (what if there’s a bear nearby?), but it could be even scarier not to (what if there’s time to escape?). Having all the information always leads to better decisions, and that’s never more true than when it comes to scouting your business’s competition.
Knowing what your competition is up to can:
- Give benchmarks. Sticking with our analogy, there’s no need to stumble around in the dark. Not sure where to set your price? Check your competitors. Wondering how to structure your offer? Check your competitors. Thinking of sending emails but not sure how often? Check your… well, you know what to do. Gathering data from the field gives perspective, takes minimal time, and saves you the anxiety of guessing.
- Push you to do better. Comparing your business only to itself cheats it out of the healthy pressure sparked by competition. It isn’t uncommon for CEOs to cite competition as the reason for their greatest periods of growth. To stay ahead, they had to strive for top notch customer service, products, and business operations and were better for it. Keeping tabs on the competition means keeping away from a complacent mindset.
- Help avoid pitfalls. While checking in on a competitor, let’s say you notice two social media posts — one that received lots of attention and one that, even though it advertised a sale, didn’t get a single like. It doesn’t take long to see why (there’s too much text on the sale post), and you’ve just gleaned valuable information that will help your own social media campaigns. Scanning Google for reviews will often yield similar results as customers air their unfiltered opinions about what pleased or displeased them. Put the detailed information they share to good use on your own customers.
- Hone your strategy. Deciding how to stretch precious marketing dollars can feel like roulette, but evaluating where your competitors are spending theirs can provide clarity. If one of your competitors is dominating billboards, do you go head-to-head or spend your budget elsewhere in order to own another space instead? How are others using social media and what can you do to stand out on those platforms? That kind of research and the discussion it sparks can lead to big payoffs.
The moral of the story? Avoid bears, but not competition. Having competitors means there’s a market for what you offer and that’s a good thing. Regularly taking stock of what others are doing reaps benefits for your business, your industry, and most of all, your customers.
Need help identifying your competitors and ways to outperform them? Here are some steps to get you started. Need more assistance or just want to chat? We’d love to. Contact us today.