Every business wants to get ahead, and once they’re there they want to stay there. That’s easier said than done, though. You can’t climb the hill if you don’t deal with the rest of those who are trying to do that too, or stay on top of the hill if you don’t monitor what’s going on down there. In business, you can’t avoid to be complacent. Watch your competition; they’re watching you too.
Here’s what you need to do to start your “Godfather strategy”.
1. Befriend them.
On social media, that is. Follow them on Twitter, watch their feed on Facebook, get on LinkedIn with them, etc. Regularly monitor their website. Don’t be a social spy of only their company; you can also follow their key people. The age of social media is also the age of easier monitoring—legally. Google Trends, Google Alerts, Infinigraph and many other tools are perfect for keeping tabs too.
2. Sign up for their newsletters or catalogs online or offline.
See something you’re interested in? Call them. As an interested customer, you can ask all relevant questions without being obvious.
3. Get out there and shop.
Be a secret shopper and watch what they do on the ground. Social makes things like spying on your competitors easier, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t fold up your sleeves now and then and get your hands dirty. Get a price tracking tool so you don’t have to visit their shops too often. According to Pricemanager.com, the price tracking tool can help your business gain leverage above others.
4. Visit their displays at trade shows.
Sometimes they save their best offerings and launches for events like trade shows. Be there. As your people man your booth, walk around and explore your competition. If you’re worried that they already know who you are, assign someone you trust to do the walk-around.
You can’t be too smug and think watching your competitors closely is beneath you. That’s almost equivalent to signing your company’s death sentence. Watch your competitors and you just might get that next brilliant idea.