Know Your Competition.

By Andrew J. Birol, President, Birol Growth Consulting, Inc.

If you are not a Fortune 500 company, chances are your competition is not your biggest problem. More likely, your goal is to discover and apply your best and highest use. However, where can you learn about this and how can you tell if you are relevant in the marketplace.

The answer, in this case, is partially learned through the competition.

Whether they are your customers or competitors, whoever you think serves your marketplace, is an important group to important if not to attack, but certainly to learn from.

This is not to say that competition is to be copied. For to do so means to avoid your best and highest use and mimicking theirs. So, look toward your competition with an eye toward making yourself better...not more like them.

So how can you do this? Here are seven easy ways to learn about your competition:

  1. Become their customer. Buy anything you can from them, especially if in any way you can truly consume it. And be an active customer. The more you buy from them the more they will tell you.
  2. Become their vendor. Find a problem they have and offer a solution. Sell it at a price they cannot resist. Ask them to fill out a credit application.
  3. Befriend their vendors, customers, bankers, accountants, and lawyers. The more obscure the information you seek, the more likely those who know it will tell you.
  4. Scour your competitor’s website, Meta tags and keywords, as well as those of their competitors. When it comes to shameless self-promotion, Web sites are a primary venue. And when someone or some business is talking about themselves, rarely do they know when to stop.
  5. Join chat groups on your competitor’s business and ask customers, employees and vendors about the strong feelings they are posting. There is nothing more flagrant than a damaged customer. They are looking for someone to listen to them and you can be just the person to fit the bill.
  6. Run a credit report; ask the Better Business Bureau or the Bureau of Consumer Affairs for references on your competitor. Companies love to sing the praises of those who have unusually served or disserved them. You will learn about their Best and Highest Use from those who know it best -- those who pay for it.
  7. Call their sales and marketing departments and tell them you are a researcher wanting to do a profile on their company. Even when asked for your name and company they probably will still tell you want you want to know. Keep your comments positive and open-ended, encouraging them to brag.


As simple as these ideas sound, ask yourself, when did I last try them to learn more about your business’ prospects and best and highest use? Not only will you be delighted with the cost and the results of this "poor man’s" competitive research, but also you will have a blast doing it. To quote my favorite philosopher, Yogi Berra, "You can hear a lot by just listening".

Articles by Birol Growth Consulting are © copyrighted and all rights are reserved. However, articles may be reprinted with prior written consent if attribution is included as follows:

© Copyrighted by Andrew J. Birol, President of Birol Growth Consulting, who helps owners grow their businesses by growing their Best and Highest Use ®. Andy can be reached at  (412) 973-2080, by email at abirol@andybirol.com, or on the web at www.andybirol.com.


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