If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles.” This is a quote from The Art of War by Sun Tzu, a popular, if not mythological figure in Chinese history.
Though the quote is mainly about military strategies, it also has applications in your business. After all, the quest to take your company to the top can also be considered a battle. And to win this battle, you not only need to know your business inside and out but you should also know your competition well enough to win against them.
By knowing your competitors, you can exploit their weaknesses and counter their strengths. Like in war, it is not always about who hits harder; a lot of times, the battle is decided by who is smarter.
Fortunately, the Internet has made it easier for you to research your competition. They do not call these years the Age of Information for nothing. With smartphones and tablets equipped with Internet connection, information about your competition is just right at your fingertips.
You can find out a lot by just simply doing a manual search using keywords related to your product or service. The first five to ten companies in the results page, not to mention those that appear on Google ads, can be considered as your top competition.
But Google is no longer just a simple search engine. It now has other tools that businesses can use to gather information that can be very useful. For one, there is Google Alerts. It allows you to monitor relevant news and content about your competitors. Second, there is Google Trend. This gives you a graph presentation about the interest of the market in your company and competitors. It lets you compare your business to other players in the industry by showing you where potential visitors go in the web.
Other tools outside Google
There are other Internet tools outside of Google that you can use as well. This includes SpyFu (for keywords used by your competitors) and Alexa (monitor commercial web traffic).But what makes the web ideal for scouting your competition is that you have access to the actual opinion of consumers about your own business and your competition.
There are websites like Yelp and CitySearch that allows consumers to post their reviews about different establishments from food to phone service providers. You can also find similar and related information on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Granted, there are obviously some subjective opinions in there, but if you filter through all of the unnecessary information, you can get to the gist of where your competition is lacking, which you can use to your advantage later. For example, if consumers find that your competitor’s website is not very useful and is difficult to navigate, you can make sure that they cannot say the same for your own by making a very user-friendly website for your own business.
These information are there for the taking. Make sure that you use it to help your business win its battles because rest assured, your competitors will.