Sneaking a Peek – How to Ethically Perform Research on Your Competitors
Are you running a business? It can be tough work but ultimately rewarding. Being your own boss, or someone else’s boss, can sure beat slaving away for a meagre salary for someone else’s profits. But one hurdle that many business people face is how to properly research the competition to ensure that their products, services and prices are competitive and attractive. Let’s take a brief look at how you can perform research on your competition without being dodgy about it.
Use a Web Scraping Tool
What is a web scraper, you ask? Don’t worry – we’re not surprised if you haven’t heard of it. A web scraping tool basically scans the whole web for you, compiling data on your competitor’s products, services and prices. It then pops the data on an easy to read and understand spreadsheet, so you have a wealth of data at your fingertips. This is not an underhanded tactic, because all that information was freely available on the web. It just saved you hours and hours of manual research.
Another way to gather qualitative and quantitative data on your competitors is to perform market research. New methods of market research are always emerging and can help to give you that sharp edge over the competition. For example, you could sample a cohort of consumers that are considering switching providers for your particular product or service and glean information on what they are looking for in a new provider. This is completely ethical – every business from major corporations through to small firms conducts market research.
This is time consuming, and is why we suggested using a web scraping service above. If you have the time and energy you can manually visit the websites of all your competitors. Take a look at their prices, services, products and unique selling points. Draw up a table of comparisons between your offerings and theirs. Then start to make some decisions. Where can you match, or beat, their prices? Does this mean you have to sacrifice quality, or wages, or make a cut somewhere? Might it be better to offer a premium product or service for a higher cost and hope that the prestige attached to the price tag attracts some custom? These are tricky decisions, but at least you’ll be informed.
Social media is one of the most powerful tools available on the web these days. As well as being a great place to build your brand and invest in some highly targeted advertising it is also a great place to keep a watchful eye on the competition. Make sure you follow your competition on all of their social channels and keep a close eye on their content. This is definitely ethical, as that content is there with anyone with a social account to view. Check up on their content marketing strategy and their special offers and see if you can match, or, even better, improve on their offerings.
The Winning Combination
Out of all of these options that we’ve listed, there’s no one strategy that comes out in front as a sure fire win. It’s about the winning combination of all of them. To start with, invest in a web scraping tool or website to scour the internet and compile accurate data about your competitors. Then, get out and talk to your customers or the competition’s customers via some market research. If you have the time and effort, get Googling and compile your own data. And finally, don’t be afraid to use the weapons that are the social media giants to your advantage.