What if I told you spending just 15 minutes shopping your competition – on your smartphone – could make you a better marketer? It’s true. Jessica Bowers does a great job explaining this in her Business2Community article, and I’d like to build on what she said.
Business is competitive. There’s no two ways around it: we all want to win! That requires paying attention to what your competition is doing, on a regular basis. Once upon a time, this was kind of an awkward proposition – if you wanted to see what the store next door was selling, you actually had to go inside and check out the displays (or sweet talk a friend into doing this for you!), but now?
Now we have technology, and that means your competition is right out there, putting up pictures of their merchandise, giving video tours of their store, and you can see it all right from your smartphone.
Bowers recommends signing up for your competition’s newsletters, following them on social media, reading their blog and spending time on their website. These are all wholly ethical actions to take: you’re only looking at information your competition is putting out there for the whole world to see.
You can learn a lot from this information. It’s a good practice to devote some time – even 15 minutes will be eye-opening – to learning how the company that’s most interested in capturing your share of the market presents itself online. Study what type of content they share and how they engage with their customers. Look at the promotional campaigns they run, the offers they use to attract traffic, and areas of activity and inactivity.
Now compare this to what your own brand is doing. Does your company have a presence everywhere your competition does? The ideal answer to this question is not necessarily yes; choosing the right tools is more important than choosing all the tools. Look for things you do better than your competition – and for areas where you could really stand to up your game.
At the end of this exercise, identify one thing you could do to improve your marketing. You only need one item to focus on – even if you identify dozens of things you’d like to do better, just pick one! – and then do create and implement a plan to improve.
Repeat this process throughout the year. It doesn’t need to be an obsessive practice: you probably don’t want to spend 15 minutes a day thinking about your competition! Checking in on at least monthly basis is a good best practice. You can make your business better by shopping your competition from your smartphone.