competition Archives - TAB Corporate

5 Tips for Monitoring Your Competitor’s Marketing Strategy

 

 No matter how unique their product or service, every business has a competitor (or more than one). This is probably a good thing because it means no CEO or business owner can become complacent or believe there’s no threat to his or her company’s well-being.

Competitors are a fact of life. The trick, in terms of crafting your company’s marketing message, is knowing what the “other guy” is saying and how well their message is being received by the target audience.

Here are five tips for staying on top of your competitor’s marketing strategy:

1. Monitor changes in their website. Just as your business has put a great deal of time, energy and resources into building a customer-friendly website, so the competition has also worked hard to craft a high-functioning business website. When was the last time you looked close at the competitor’s web pages, scrutinizing the look and feel of the site, its content and images, and so on? Try viewing their site through a customer’s eyes. See how well you can navigate from home page to purchase page (and everywhere in between). After taking this “tour,” make a point to stop by every couple of months and see if they have added new functions or changed their design. Watch for any changes, subtle or otherwise, in their key marketing points.

2. Track their activity on social media. Presuming your business has a vibrant social media presence, it’s safe to assume the competition reaches out to followers on several platforms as well. Which platforms do they favor—Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.? What does their business profile look like? Does it appear to convey a more compelling or emotional message than your own profile page? There’s nothing wrong with choosing to “Like” or “Follow” your competitor on social media. This way you can keep track of any special offers or announcements they share with their customers, as well as any big changes in their marketing approach.

3. Analyze the content they offer. Whether it’s blog posts, podcasts, customer testimonial videos or webinars, the content your competitor offers to customers and prospects might be coming across more effectively than your own. Generally speaking, it’s possible to determine how widely an article or case study is shared among followers, which will give you a better idea of what type of content your customers value most. (It can also spark your own creative impulses to come up with value-added topics.)

4.  Set up a Google Alert. This is an easy way to monitor how often your competition is mentioned online. Type in a handful of industry-relevant keywords in the Google Alert (including the name of your own business) and regularly check on who’s talking about competitors and why. This may be quite valuable in assessing how well the other guy’s marketing message is performing in the eternal hunt for new customers.

5. Look at competitors through a customer’s eyes. Marketing expert Jim Joseph suggests engaging in “shopping trips to try out your competitors’ customer experience, both online and in-store.” Study and analyze their approach to customer service, along with the quality and variety of their products and services, and how they are “sourced, merchandised and priced.” This will tell you a lot about their marketing efforts—and where they may be cutting into your customer acquisition efforts as well.

The information you gain from monitoring the competition shouldn’t just be compiled and left on a shelf. Use this research to pinpoint any areas of deficiency in your own marketing efforts and make changes as necessary. Look for new ways to attract prospects through social media and upgrades in your website. Do everything possible to make your own customers’ buying experience as unique as possible. See how well you can leave the competition in the dust.

Want to learn more about marketing and competitive research? Want to achieve marketing and management excellence? Listen to this free recording  http://info.thealternativeboard.com/strategic-marketing-and-management

 

Observations from The Middle Kingdom

I had the pleasure of visiting China on a family/school-related trip recently. In addition to touring the historical sites of Beijing and the Shanghai boomtown, we also visited Xi’an, home of the Terra Cotta warriors, and the tropical Yangshou area of Guilin in South Central China. We found the Chinese people to be warm, friendly and industrious.

High-rise ghost towns in China

High-rise ghost towns in China

The Chinese high rise ghost towns were a site to see. There are cranes everywhere building clusters of high rise apartment construction. Many of these buildings are finished, yet are completely uninhabited. These ghost towns are built both to keep workers busy but primarily in anticipation of the relocation of a staggering 250 million people from rural to urban areas. It’s like a pre-planned suburban sprawl.

The stats speak.

Regarding the growth of the Chinese economy, consider these key statistics from the last 30 years:

  • Illiteracy rate
    • 1978:  22.23%
    • 2011:  5.4%
  • Higher education enrollment
    • 1978:  560K
    • 2008:  18.85 million
  • Top 500 businesses in the world:
    • 1978:  None
    • 2011:  73 Chinese Enterprises. China has overtaken Japan and is second only to the US.
  • State-owned Industry
    • 1978:  77.6%
    • 2008:  29.5%
  • GDP per capita:
    • 1978:  $190
    • 2012:  $5,439

As I sat in a boisterous karaoke bar in Guilin, it underscored that Chinese youth are busily charting their own path to success – economically and culturally. It was a real shocker to the west when, for the first time, Chinese schools competed in the international student assessment and Chinese secondary schoolchildren finished number 1 in math and science. Clearly China is on the move and they are not content with sitting on the amazing growth of the last 30 years. It’s only a matter of time before they surpass the US economy.

Why the surprise?

I find it a bit amusing that so many are shocked by China’s growth. Many people are only aware of their 20th century economy which was dreadful. Going back a little further, as recent as the late 1800s, China had the world’s largest economy. As the West became industrialized, China fell back – especially with Mao’s disastrous reign. But given how industrious the culture is and how many people are there, the economic freedom given in the last 30 years has unleashed tremendous growth. The Middle Kingdom has a long, proud and noble history. They firmly believe that they are on the verge of re-assuming their rightful place as the world’s economic leader.

It’s also important to consider that China is playing by a different set of rules than the West. It’s a common complaint by the US that China intentionally keeps the yuan low to boost cheap exports. China has been the largest energy consumer in the world for the last few years. They also stay away from political matters outside their country. While the US is unwinding itself from costly wars in the Middle East, China has quietly and steadily focused on building the alliances with other countries to fuel its natural resource demand. Starting from a per capita income of $190 in 1978, with 1.3 billion people to feed, it’s to be expected that their rules are different.

How the West can work to win, too.

China’s ability to grow quickly while the US and the rest of the West are stuck in an anemic economic growth cycle has been the subject of significant debate, especially in light of The Great Recession. The West needs to figure out how to reconfigure itself to generate greater economic growth. Or, accept sub-2% growth and 7.5% plus unemployment as the new normal. This involves issues like government regulation and immigration policy which are well beyond the scope of this blog.

However, what we can do as individuals is position our youth to be more aware of the changing landscape and to be more individually competitive. Western youth need to realize that with a global economy their competition is not the kids across the classroom, but the millions of youth in China and other emerging eastern economies. I’ve seen stats that within 15 years, upwards of half the workforce will be some type of temporary employee. These forecasts are due to the fact that businesses are and will increasingly employee individuals with top notch specialized expertise on an as-needed basis. With communication technology becoming better, cheaper and more pervasive, in many cases it doesn’t matter where the specialist is located. We need to educate our youth to make them aware of these trends and what the competitive landscape is going to look like when they’re adults – so that they are better prepared to either start their own businesses or develop the specialized expertise to be sought by employers.

photo credit: Bert van Dijk via photopin cc