Most small businesses lack the time, money and experience to effectively track their competition. Unlike big brands, they lack the resources to fully understand who their competition is, what their competition is doing and when they are doing it.
Tracking your competitors has become much harder today than it was just 10 years ago. Small business once only competed in small neighboring areas. Now, with the expansion of online sales and ecommerce websites, your top competitor may not be down the street or on the other side of town. Now, your top competitor may be a thousand miles away. Because of this, tracking them has become much more difficult.
In this article I will outline some techniques that will help you as a small business owner, keep track of what your competitors are doing.
1. Checkout your competitors website:
You will be able to tell a lot about your competition by the way that their website looks. Most of us at this point, know what a good website looks like. Play around with it; do all of the links work? Do they have photos? How clear is their brand coming through? Look to see if they have added any new functions or are offering something that you are not. Read through their blog and see what kind of traction they are getting from their users. Become familiar with what your competitor’s websites allow their users to do. If for example, you are in the bicycle business, see what kind of deals they are offering. They may be offering their customers seasonal discounts on new tires or helmets. They may also be promoting rides with other bike enthusiasts or providing breaking news in the cycling world.
The idea behind monitoring your competitor’s websites is this; to make sure that your online marketing efforts are better than those of your competitors. You will quickly know if your online brand experience is superior to that of your competitors by doing a side-by-side comparison. It should be very easy for you to determine whose brand is being better represented online.
Don’t only look at your direct competitors website, but also look at those companies and brands that may be indirect or peripheral competitors as well.
The key point here is this. Figure out who the competitors are in your space that draw time, attention, and money away from your brand and business. Then figure out how they are doing it. Look at your online competition more broadly and adjust accordingly.
2. Sign up for their services or become a customer:
Try signing up for your competitors email or newsletter. Becoming a regular recipient of your competitors marketing campaigns, will give you a great idea of what type of offers they provide and how those offers measure up against yours.
Try becoming a secret online or in-store shopper. Find out what their process is and take notes on what they are doing well and not so well. You will get a great insight into your competitions product inventory, pricing and customer service. Becoming a secrete shopper will help you clarify how you stack up against them.
3. Follow your competitors on social media:
There is no better place to find out what your competitors are doing than on social media. Like, Follow, Monitor, Engage and Interact with your competitors on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr. Track your competitive brands and their key leaders to get a feeling of what they are doing, and when they are doing it. For example, if you own a shoe store, you will want to follow all of the local shoes stores in your area. You will also want to follow the top five major footwear brands so you can get a complete view of your industry and the competitors within that industry.
The best way to follow and track your competitors on social media is to employ a competitor-tracking tool like the one offered from HubNami.com. Tools like this will allow you to take all of your competitors and put them into one place. You can then monitor and measure their success and failures and get reports and alerts as to what they are doing. This type of tool is great for small businesses that want to save time and money.
Running a small business is tough. Don’t let your competition outperform you and take away your customers. Design a strategy that works for you and your business and stick to it. Devote a portion of your time every week to check in on your competition and see what they are doing. I guarantee they are doing the same.
If you have any questions or need help setting up a competitive tracking system please do not hesitate to ask. I’m here to help Justin@hubNami.com