By Srikanth Chari, CEO of Watch360 Systems
In business, you always need to know what your
competitors are doing. To survive, you must perform competitive
intelligence activities and monitor the broader market for new
developments that could affect your company, your products and brands,
suppliers, and distributors.
Tracking your competitors
is the only way to make to make sure you are thwarting threats,
taking advantage of opportunities, marketing effectively, and,
ultimately, winning in the marketplace. By performing competitive
intelligence, you will significantly increase your margins and
There's one resource that's often underutilized
in this regard: your competitors' Websites.
Today's digital footprint, while increasing
corporate transparency and yielding greater power to consumers in the
marketing dialogue, enables marketers to measure conversions. Companies
spend enormous sums of money on maintaining their websites so that they
can attract and influence prospects, customers, and analyst.
Your competitors may wish they could block you from
their websites, but remember that the information they post there is
public. If you aren't harvesting this rich - and free - resource, you
are the loser!
Here are 5 things you must do regularly to
effectively track your competitors and uncover their not so hidden
1. Identify your competitors
Now, this may seem odd to you. You’re probably
thinking, “doesn't a company know who its competitors are?” Not always.
New firms come seemingly out of nowhere, preempting existing companies
with different technologies or approaches they never saw coming.
Often a company in an adjacent area will change its
positioning to try and address your market, or a new startup may emerge
in a related area. You need to create a master list of your key
competitors and make sure you keep this up to date.
To do this, Google the terms, which describe your
industry, your products and services. You can also use a little known
feature in Google. In the search box, type in "related:www.yourcompanyname.com"
and Google will display a list of companies that it considers related to
yours. Look for new companies that show up and see if any of these pose
2. Check your competitors’ home pages for
When you visit a company's website, first look at
its home page to see if they have made changes to the way they describe
their products and services. Carefully scrutinize how they emphasize
different features or benefits and how they are positioning themselves.
Sometimes, you can learn a lot even from the subtle changes your
competitors make on their home page.
3. Review the trade shows they participate in
Trade shows can take a big chunk out of a company’s
marketing budget, so it is important to know which shows your
competitors participate in.
Regularly review the events page on their websites
and maintain a spreadsheet with names, dates and locations of the shows
that your competitors plan to be at. You can then see which ones you
might want to sign up for.
If you spot one of them at a new show, you might
ask yourself, "why are they exhibiting at this defense-related show?" It
might be an indicator of a new market they are entering – perhaps one
that you should consider as well.
4. Create a competitive intelligence database
of white papers and Webinars
Increasingly, white papers and webinars have become
the preferred way for a company to establish its mind share and
leadership -- so this is another area you should be tracking. You should
maintain a list of titles of the whitepapers and webinars your
competitors create or host to get an idea of their new direction.
You may not learn much from one single event or
white paper, but you'll learn a lot when you look at these as a whole.
You'll see trends and patterns that clearly indicate how these companies
are positioning or repositioning themselves.
5. Check whom they are hiring and firing
Once in a while, check the management team and job
postings pages on your competitors’ websites. Try and see whether your
competitors have added or removed any names from their management team.
This is often the only way you may learn that your key competitor has
lost their VP of Sales; no press announcement is likely to be made about
Competitive intelligence is rewarding, but not
You’ll gain a lot by making these activities part
of your routine, but this work does take serious time, effort, and
If you don't have the time to invest in such
activities, you can always stick to just using Google Alerts to get the
top-level news about your competitors. But the truth is, you're
short-changing yourself if you do this. Quality competitive analysis may
not come easy, but it will go a long way towards ensuring your business
The good news is that some new automated
competitive intelligence tools are now starting to become available.
Such tools can automatically scan company websites and deliver any new
information that posted. You may want to consider one of these to make
this job significantly easier.
About the Author:
As CEO of
Watch360 Systems, Srikanth Chari can help you track your competitors and uncover their not so
hidden secrets simply, effectively, and affordably. With his
competitive intelligence services, you will be updated on
market landscape changes and get back to working on growing your
business -- in less than 3 minutes.