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KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. Staying aware of what your competition is doing in the marketplace makes good business sense. And in today’s digital age, more information than you can dream of is just a few clicks away.

Imagine a tool that will send you an email nearly every time information about a competitor is posted on the Internet, often within minutes of the new post.

It exists, and it’s called Google Alert. Visit and enter search terms for your competitor (e.g., Smith Architects). Choose to just get news items, blog posts or everything that is posted. You can receive updates as soon as they happen, or you can opt for daily or weekly emails. If your competitor has a common name, and you are getting quite a few irrelevant alerts about unrelated businesses, try adding additional keywords to your search like your city. There are also paid services available, like Mention and Critical Mention, that do more in-depth monitoring of media, whether it is traditional or social media.

Facebook and Twitter allow you to stay current on your competitions’ activity. Just “like” the Facebook pages and “follow” the Twitter profiles of your competitors to have their posts appear in your news feed.

For a true picture of how your competitors operate, you need to experience it yourself. There’s no greater learning opportunity than to have your employees experience your competitors firsthand. Shop your competition. Ask them to report back to the team with details of their experiences so others can benefit from the research.

Interview new customers of yours regarding their experiences with your competitors to better understand what your competitors do well and where product/service opportunities exist. Most customers are happy to provide feedback that will help ensure you exceed their expectations. It’s less critical that they attribute this information directly back to a specific competitor, and more important that they share their prior experiences with your competitors in general — the good, the bad and the ugly.

Track the open positions your competitors are posting as an indication of the firm’s future growth or potential resource gaps. If you’re competing with a publicly traded company, buy a share of stock, which will give you access to the company’s financials.

Watch where your competitors are advertising and what messages they’re using. If you’re seeing repetition in a certain channel and message, then it is likely working.

Staying current on your competitors’ activities isn’t about keeping up with the Joneses. There is more to marketing than just doing more than the other guy. It’s about being informed. The information you gather through your search should simply serve as one of several forms of input into your strategic sales and marketing planning efforts.

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RedRover Sales & Marketing

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