One of the best topics you can research is your competition.
We are talking about a lot more than clicking on a competitor's website, though that's not a bad start. We are talking about assessing a competitor's value proposition, product mix and engagement level with customers. These can reveal clues to how you can improve.
Competitor research is a good companion to customer satisfaction surveys. Finding out what your customers think about you is important. Discovering what your competitor's customer think about them can be vital to breaking through a sales plateau, introducing a new product or service or learning how to engage customers in new, imaginative ways.
Seeing your competitors through the eyes of their customers can highlight your weaknesses – or strengths.
Have an independent shopper sample your product or service and your competitor's and offer a non-biased perspective on how they match up against each other.
Conduct a focus group with people who are loyal to you product or service and those who are loyal to your competitor's and see what consensus emerges.
Ask a friend or your spouse to benchmark each product and offer comments. Tell them not to spare you any bad news if they think your competitor's product stacks up higher than yours.
There is nothing underhanded or illicit about competitor research. The marketplace thrives on competition, the constant churning to make some better and cheaper. Discovering in graphic detail what your competitor is up to can snap you out of lethargy and ignite some old compete fires that helped propel your business to where it is at now.
Competitor research may confirm you are the winner, but have areas to improve. Companies and organizations that take a hard, sober look at their competitors are the ones that keep getting better – to stay ahead and get ahead of their competition.