Competitive Intelligence - How Do You Measure Up?

Have you shopped your own product lately? Do you know what the competition is selling to the same market that you solicit? If you have not shopped your product this year, you need to check it out. The bottom line is that this year is unique, and your sales pitch needs to take that into consideration.

You have options when it comes to learning about how you measure up in today's market:

  1. Hire a company like ours to do independent research that can provide you with feedback from some of your recent clients, as well as the folks who said no. The length of time for this study and the cost simply depend on how much feedback you want and your specific concerns.
  2. Do research online. This is often also part of our competitive analysis & market research report, but you can also do some research yourself using the internet and social media to find feedback about your own company and your competition. Keep in mind that many of your potential customers do similar research before contacting a company like yours, so it's important that you know the results of these types of simple and sophisticated online search results. A couple of suggestions: search for your company and your keywords on Google and Yahoo, and check social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and Yelp.
  3. Consider a secret shopper. Send an individual to shop your competition and get a side-by-side comparison as to how you measure up. This is also something we put in our reports, however we keep the research scientifically credible by analyzing the results in a variety of ways so you can get more than what first meets the eye. We also control the shopper who will get different service based on sex, age, race, accent and economic status.
  4. Try test-market advertising. Send out information about your company and encourage people to come to a web survey and fill it out in order to receive some kind of incentive. This requires some thinking so you can get enough qualified individuals in your market to respond. If respondents are improperly qualified, the sample and its results are simply not valid. For example, if the incentive you're offering is a Starbucks gift card and you install air conditioners, your survey may be filled out by folks who want a Starbucks card but do not own a home; thus they are not truly your target market.

If you decide to do your own research, start by determining what you really want to know about your target market and how they view your company as compared to others. Make sure you control the variables in your questionnaire and that you keep your opinions out of the research. Remember: you need to give those customers or potential customers the opportunity to teach you something about how your company is perceived without your opinions or interference.


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