How Identifying Your Competitors Can Help Your Business

Every business should know who their competitors are.  The best way to assure that you are conducting your market research in the best way possible is to identify all of your competitors first.   You might think you know all the players in your field, but you might not.  In fact, with the phenomenon of the internet and room in the market for small businesses to get started online, you probably don’t realize how often companies just like yours are popping up on the web.

How do you find your competitors?  There are few ways you can find them, but the best way is by using search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN to look for popular terms in your industry.  There is no reason to feel bad about looking at the ways in which your competitors conduct business, so go ahead and visit their homepages, as all of the information is public.  You could also grab a yellow pages and look for other companies in your industry.  When using this method, be sure to note whether or not those companies have a website.

When you evaluate the websites of your competitors, start by creating a spreadsheet that contains a list of all of your competitors – so you can keep track of the characteristics of their sites and what methods they are implementing. Be sure to break down the layout of the site, and whether or not it is easily navigable.  What options is the company giving a visitor while they are on the homepage? Be sure to think of yourself as a customer while you are doing this, not a competitor.  Do you like being on their website, and why?  Are you finding all of the necessary information you need if you are looking for this particular product or service?  If the answer is yes, then don’t be afraid to use similar layouts and verbiage to appeal to your customers.

In today’s consumer world, people are able to buy almost anything they want online, and they want to do it easily and in the least amount of time.  If you find something with a competitor’s website that slows you down or frustrates you – and you have a similar glitch in your website, be sure to fix it right away. When you are critiquing these competitors’ websites, be sure to track some of your observations in the spreadsheet that you have created, and update it frequently so you can see how they are changing.  Most companies in today’s business world have been forced to spend lots of money building a website and marketing their company online, so they may change their model often to improve based on results.

So don’t waste any time getting started identifying your competitors and what they are doing.  It might sound like it’s easy, but it is essential form of competitive intelligence that will help take your small business to the next level,  and ahead of the competition!

Did you know?
If you go to Google and type in “related:”, putting your web domain in the URL and conduct a search, Google will provide you with a list of companies it thinks are closely related.