In some of our client meetings, our Chief of Business Development, Jake has been dubbed “Jake from State Farm”, partly because he does wear khakis.
It’s an on-going joke in the office, but makes for a perfect and easy Halloween costume: Jake from State Farm…. In khakis.
Since Halloween is around the corner, we were contemplating blog post ideas. In more recent client meetings, Jake and I have been called “creepers.” Although “creeper” is not as much Halloween fun as “Jake from State Farm”, it does have a much better story behind it.
When we walk into any client meeting (especially the first one), we like to come prepared. We do our homework on our client and the competition. At times, it can be shocking to a client to look at all of the data and information we have compiled on them, and as a result our client will call us a “stalker” or a “creeper.”
6 ways to do Competitor Research
So in honor of Halloween, here are 6 spooky ways you can spy on your competition. It’s not stalking… just call it competitor research.
1. Spy by viewing, pulling information & analytics from their website
Your competitor’s website can be a goldmine for competitive intelligence.
Have you ever looked at a competitor’s website and thought: “This is great, I wish I knew what they were using to do this”? Tools like BuiltWith can show you how your competition’s website is constructed and what tools they’re using to make it happen.
An advanced “site:” search can show you all of the indexed pages for any website. Some paid online tools can also allow you to see how much traffic a competitor is getting and gain insight into their SEO strategy by knowing what keywords they are ranking for. Keyword research can be very powerful!
One bit of competitive analysis you can conduct for free is searching for business listings. You can view business listings by using our Business Listings search tool, by clicking here.
2. Haunt them by following on social media
Social media allows you to keep tabs on your friends and family, so why not your competitors? Follow your competition on Twitter and “like” them on Facebook. By following them on social media, you’ll be up to date on every contest, every promotion and new product or service.
Have you added your competitors to the Insights > Pages to Watch on your business page on Facebook?
Read through the posts & reviews on their page. This helps you learn what others are saying about the competitor’s business, as well as what they’ll expect from you.
Another strategy is to target advertisements to people on Facebook with specific interests. At times, your competitor may show up on that list.
3. Conduct some mystery shopping
Although a bit sneaky, you can walk into your competitor’s place of business or go shopping on their website.
Knowing the details of your competitor’s product offerings can help you in tailoring your products and services to be the most appealing offer.
4. Watch out for job postings & news articles
Set up a Google alert for your competition, so you are in the know when there’s a news article published about them. In the same way, LinkedIn and Indeed can be very helpful in letting you know if they’re hiring.
Changes in leadership can indicate opportunities, strengths & weaknesses.
5. Creep by asking questions & complaining
Websites and social media have made messages and complaints a very simple and easy process.
You can go to your competitor’s website and ask about product details, pricing and processes. Often, knowing HOW your competition goes about fulfilling on a sale is the most powerful bit of knowledge you need, especially if you’re just starting your business.
6. Checking out their advertisements
There is more than 1 way to find out how your competitors are advertising. Long gone are the days where you had to listen to the radio or turn on the TV to find out what your competitors were advertising.
You can go to YouTube.com and view your competitor’s channel. Businesses usually share their TV spots on their YouTube pages.
One powerful resource is Moat.com. Moat allows you to see what your competitors print & digital advertisements look like. Other online tools can also help you find out how much a competitor is spending on digital advertising.
So here’s our 6 top list of totally-legal, honestly-not-stalking research activities. If you’re interested in learning what your competitors are doing and how you can outrank and beat your competition, we can help you by providing a free, non-salesy inbound marketing assessment.