Starting and maintaining a business is about as challenging as it gets, and small businesses need all the help they can get when it comes to achieving long-term viability. Information on how your business is progressing, as well as keeping abreast of your market competitors are both extremely valuable commodities. Small businesses need to utilize the latest resources available as part of their business strategy to grow the company. This includes not only competitor research, but techniques that will help owners to reach a wider potential customer base.
Tracking your customers online
Information is of course vital when it comes to learning about your business in relation to how it is progressing. If you have a business that relies heavily on online sales you should have an analytics tool that can provide you with vital statistics. These will include how much traffic your business website attracts, where your traffic is coming from and audience demographics. All of this information is available for free through a basic Google Analytics package, although premium packages will come with a user fee.
Competitor information online
If you’re trying to find competitor data there is no better place than the internet. A huge amount of information is available and can be sourced through business directories, competitor advertising and directly through your competitor’s websites. Remember to check out press reports, interviews and feedback from customers. Don’t forget to read customer reviews on your competitor’s products and services. They will allow you to view negative, as well as positive reports and this should give you an idea of where you can fill a hole in the market, allowing you to create a stronger business service.
Finding your competition
Understanding how your competitors run their business, especially those with longevity, is one of the best ways to decide how to set out and promote your product or services. Knowing who your competitors are the products they sell and where they sell them, as well as their pricing strategy and customer base is invaluable research. For a start-up this information can then be used to create business strategies, to set pricing levels and to ultimately enhance business performance. Much of this information can be gleamed by searching for your competitor’s company directors – this data is widely available online via business information websites.
Entice through your USP
A business, no matter how big or small, survives on its customers. Your competitors, the companies that have been in business for many years, will no doubt have snagged and held onto a large customer base. Competition is healthy and if you can offer a product or service that is better for a minimally lower cost this will be to your advantage. The saying that there is no loyalty in business is also true of customers; you can draw consumers away from competitors with a Unique Selling Point (USP), taking advantage of a gap in the market. For example T-Mobile are well known for their use of social media to offer an unrivalled customer service which has seen their market share grow in recent years.
Social media and advertising
No matter how good your product or service is you will still have to reach customers. The most common way people view advertising today is via the internet, usually through social networking sites and search engines. Email marketing is being left behind due to the advertising capabilities of websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and a wealth of others.
However, good content is a vital, and if you’re using social media it’s important to ensure content will appeal to, and attract your target audience. Consider running competitions across your social platforms as a way of both increasing fans and raising engagement within your online community.
A good entrepreneur will understand the importance of competitor research and how to use this information when selling their products and services. Never underestimate the value of information when it comes to giving your business an edge to help increase long-term survival.