Monday 22 December, 2014

How to Improve Your Marketing – 4 Hacks for Monitoring the Competition

A great way to come up with innovative ideas and find out where you’re succeeding or failing is to spy on your competitors. Did I say “spy?” I meant to say, “Pay close attention to everything they do.” Okay, that sounds a little stalker-ish as well. Let’s say “monitor” your competitors.

You can glean a great deal of insight by studying your competitors. You can discover:

* Where their marketing is weak or strong so that you can capitalize on their weaknesses.
* Your own natural strengths, or the areas where your marketing is stronger than theirs.
* Ideas to help you set yourself apart from your competitors.
* Exactly what the market thinks of your competitors. You can use this information to find needs they’re not meeting in the market.

The cool thing is that the internet offers a plethora of information that’s free and available to help you stalk… er, I mean monitor your competitors. Here are four handy hacks for doing it.

Get Alerts

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could know exactly what your competitor is doing online in real-time? Well, you can by signing up for alerts.

The most popular alert system is Google Alerts. You can choose the search terms you’d like to be alerted for, and whenever somebody posts one of these terms online, you’ll be notified immediately. For your search terms, you can use your competitor’s company name, or any other relevant keyword.

There are other types of alerts as well. In addition to Google Alerts, which is probably the most comprehensive, you can also sign up for social alerts for social media sites, or use special monitoring tools that have alert features.

Become a Follower

Follow your competitors everywhere possible so that you receive their marketing communications. Sign up for their email list, subscribe to their blog, follow them on social media, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and so on. Pay attention to how they talk to their audience and what kind of content they share. Pay especially close attention wherever possible to the audience’s reactions to their communications.

Be a Customer

Become a customer of our competitor. Don’t worry, you don’t have to actually buy anything. You can visit their website as if you’re going to make an order but stop before you buy. You’ll see what the process is like. You can contact your competitor with a question or enquiry to see how they treat their customers. If you’re following them on social media, see how they deal with negative comments or complaints.

Find Your Competitors Offline

Make an effort to connect with your competitors offline. This is a real ninja spy maneuver that takes quite a bit more effort but can yield incredible results. A certain friend of mine managed to take several of the ex-staff of one of his major competitors drinking and the information he got out of them was real insider stuff.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. Always be on the lookout for ways you can follow and connect with your competitors so that you know what they’re doing.

Bob Steele

Bob Steele

Bob Steele is an entrepreneur, software developer, marketer, and author living in the Denver metropolitan area. He’s an avid outdoorsman who loves skiing, hiking, fishing, boating, and just plain having fun. His interests include games, space, technology, physics, cooking (well eating actually), economics, business, internationalism, and team sports. With over thirty years of professional consulting experience, Bob has been exposed to many diverse business models and has gained a sensible approach to life. Bob’s company, WaveCentric is focused on commerce, marketing, and entertainment related products.

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