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Learn from Your Competitors

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on May 7, 2008

To be competitive in a new market, you don’t want to start from scratch. The quickest way to learn how to be successful is to check the playbook of your competitors. By taking the time to investigate what has made their businesses work, you’ll be able to learn their best methods and improve upon their model. Here are some ways to do your research:

•Shop the competition: Identify them through the phone book, online research, or through word of mouth.
•Analyze their Web sites: Search the Internet and read what your competitors say about their own products and services. This also helps you to see how they use the Web for advertising and as a marketing tool.
•Read the local newspaper daily: Find out what special pricing policies, discounts, and incentives they offer. This will give you an idea about their advertising strategy.
•Mingle with competitors: Attending industry seminars and meetings provides opportunities to learn a lot about them in a non-threatening environment.
•Visibility in the community: Find out if your competitors are supporting local charities or community activities. Also look to see if they are exhibiting at trade shows or community business expos.

Competitive information is essential to creating a successful business plan. By conducting this thorough competitive analysis, you will be able to make a successful move into business ownership.

Charlie Fewell
Charlie Fewell & Associates
Memphis, Tenn.

Reader Comments

Bob Miglani

May 9, 2008 8:49 AM

Very useful tip, Charlie. This is a very important strategy not only for learning about your competition but also about how your own business is being perceived by your customers.

In our Dairy Queen business, we called this lesson, "Once in a while, taste your own ice cream". The analogy is really about doing a walkabout and getting out of your office to see how your business - your products or services are being perceived by your customers.

In corporate America, I realized that too often, managers read market research reports but never get a real 'feel' of the customer.

By stepping out from behind the desk, managers get a invaluable opportunity to gain some real insights.

Bob Miglani
Author, Treat Your Customers: Thirty Lessons on Service and Sales That I Learned at My Family's Dairy Queen Store

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