4 ways to get familiar with your competitors as a small business

To win the race, it’s important to know your competition.

By Emma Sturgis

There are many components of running a small business, including being aware of other businesses in your field. Without knowing and understanding your competition, your small business may struggle or even fail. Small changes in the activities of competition can send ripple effects into your business that can blindside you.

Here, we’ll take a look at four ways you can understand your competition better. By doing this, you’ll set yourself up for long-term success.

Be a customer

Experience the flow of your competition’s sales funnel. If most of your competition is online, go through their buying process to experience what it’s like. Talk to their customer service people and see what you can learn by acting as though you’re a run-of-the-mill customer.

If your competition is brick-and-mortar, you can still do the same. However, if you’re a well-known competitor, it’s best to use a secret shopper to achieve your goals.

By learning what a customer experiences with your competition, you’ll be able to adjust the way you conduct business accordingly. It will also allow you to see what elements of a brick-and-mortar store or ecommerce experience are most successful for the type of business you are running.

Study social media

Global Management Consulting suggests that every small business owner keep up with the social media activity of their competition.

Follow every social media page of each competitor to see when they roll out sales, promotions, new products or business-related announcements.

Beyond that, you’ll get new ideas on how to appeal to your customers with blog posts and other entertaining content. Make sure your social media pages don’t start looking too similar to your competitor’s though. You still want to stand out as a unique business.

Be a regular on their websites

How often do you visit the websites of your competition? If you’re not doing it daily, you’re likely already behind the curve.

Every morning before you start your regular operations, take a look at any updates your competition has made in the prior 24 hours. Did they just announce their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals? Are they moving to a new location that could threaten your operations?

Stay a step ahead of the game by checking on their sites every day so you don’t miss out on major industry news or changes in marketing trends.

Conduct customer surveys

How much do you know about your customers? Are they also regular buyers from your direct competitors? Why did they choose you for one particular purpose, but chose a competitor for another?

Your customers are a wealth of knowledge about how your competition operates. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions so you can improve your own business practices.

If you’d like customers to get involved with more detailed surveys, incentivize them for their time and expertise.

For any small business, it’s important to keep a close eye on what competition is doing. With these four strategies, you’ll gain a leg up on your competition while driving future success.


Emma Sturgis is a freelance writer based out of Boston, MA. She writes most often on healthand education. When not writing, she enjoys reading and watching film noir. Say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2.

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