Know the competition better than you know yourself. This is something that is droned on about in business classes and business meetings a lot. However, there is precious little done about it in actual practice. With the advent of true online monitoring there are no more excuses.
Here are the top 10 things you need to be monitoring about your competition (oh and if there are any similarities between this list and the “12 Critical Keywords You Should Be Monitoring in Social Media” it is completely intentional and virtually unavoidable).
1. Competitor’s Company Name
People talk about your competition like they talk about anyone else. You need to know where the competition is cleaning your clock or they have stubbed their toe. Don’t just track your arch nemesis either because there may be up and comers to be alerted to as well.
2. Competitor’s Brands
Be sure to look for brand specific mentions because a slip up in performance in one area could be signaling a greater problem at the competition’s business.
3. Competitor’s Executives
If you should be watching your own leadership then it stands to reason that the competitor’s execs are susceptible to the same concerns. Do you think that HTC, RIM, Samsung etc etc don’t want to know if an Apple exec has screwed up?
4. Competitor’s ‘Voices’
Oftentimes a ‘celebrity’ of sorts will arise from a company in the social media space. Think about Frank Eliason with Comcast. Well, now that he has left the company what will happen to that customer service effort? It could plant the seed of doubt that causes a sale for you and a no sale for the competition.
5. Competitive Weaknesses
If there is an Achilles Heel for the competition make sure you are aware when it gets worse or gets better. This kind of business intelligence could mean the difference in competitive selling situations.
6. Competitive Strengths
Even the competition does some things well. Keep an eye on if there are continuing to improve or if they have stumbled recently.
7. Competitive Hiring Activities
If you see that the competition is hiring in engineering or product development that’s a cue for change. The earlier you have insight into where the competition may be going, the more effective your response can be.
8. Competition’s Disgruntled Employees
Every business has them. You hate them on your side but you love them on the other side because they can be the best leaks of important data around.
9. Competition’s Partners
If there is a supply chain disruption to your competition that could mean the chance to win business for your side. Whether it’s material delays, partner financial issues or just plain bad business you need to know.
10. Industry Chatter
While knowing what the competition’s customers are saying about their experience is incredibly valuable it can be just as important to see how the competition is viewed in the industry itself. Every industry has its good guys and bad guys. How is you competition viewed by its peers? It can be very telling.
Are you listening?