February 2016 Featured Articles
Competitive Intelligence – Are you being smart about your business?
What do you know about your competition? Believe it or not, many small businesses never think to study the companies they are up against.
And they are shooting themselves in the foot.
It is beyond crucial that you know what your competition is doing – you should be on their e-mail lists, using their products and services, in their sales funnels, and aware of their product ladder or ascension steps.
Where are they giving speeches? Have they written a book recently? Are they active on Facebook or You Tube?
These are questions you should have the answers to at all times. But first you need to understand the basics of your business environment.
In this article, you will learn about the two chief kinds of competition that exist…
How you can leverage one in ways you never thought of…
And why you should consider acting more like the Hare Krishna…
You Should Know More than Your Direct Competitors
This actually has two meanings: you should always know more about your industry and what's happening than your competition. Or, at the very least, know as much as they do. You should also be highly aware of your indirect competition.
What does that mean exactly?
Well, your direct competition are the people who are selling the same kind of product or services as you to the same prospects as you. If you are a life coach, then you are competing against every other life coach out there. Same applies for consultants, seminar leaders, and other experts who make their living sharing their knowledge and expertise.
These are the people you should be essentially “spying” on at all times. You need to pay attention to other experts in your industry so you can see what they’re doing that’s working, what’s not being done well, and how you can differentiate your products and services.
Your indirect competition are the people who are selling different products to the same prospects you sell to.
For example, if you sell an information product on how to organize your home, your indirect competition would be companies selling other kinds of products or services like interior design or storage containers.
They don't directly influence your sales, but they certainly interact with your prospects, giving them knowledge and insight to your potential customer base that you may not have.
So why does this matter to you?
Whatever niche you operate in, other people are operating, as well. Even if you are hyper-specialized and have very little direct competition, the people you sell to buy other things.
They may have recently purchased your how to get organized in 7 steps program, but they also may have recently purchased clothing racks, decorating magazines, and possibly even a bookshelf. You see people often buy several related items to help them solve their problem. In this example it all revolves around getting organized.
These other companies have already done work unearthing emotional hot buttons and deep frustrations of your prospects. Ask them what they have learned! You very well might have missed something.
But it goes even deeper than that…
How to Make Money the Easy Way
There's an incredible way to leverage this kind of information to increase your bottom line.
Think for a moment…
What are your customers likely to buy before they buy your product? What about after? These items don't have to be exclusive to your customers. This may seem irrelevant, but the answer to these questions could change your entire business.
Let's say, again, that you sell products and services that help people get organized.
How wonderful would it be if every time someone bought a closet organizer, they would immediately be linked to your website full of tips on how to sort their wardrobe and organize around their ideal colors; or whatever your related product is.
And picture how happy you would make someone else, if after buying your product, some of your customers also signed up for your DVD’s on productivity and time management. Now most of you aren’t in the business of helping people get organized and save time, but you get the idea.
This is the foundation of the “Joint Venture” (JV) relationship – or a strategic alliance, allowing two companies to combine the strength of their marketing efforts in order to build sales revenue and increase brand recognition.
You would be multiplying your results without spending a cent extra. This isn't even limited to just people that sell to your customers, either.
If you are selling a weight-loss product, and you know of a really popular blog that targets people who are looking to lose weight…
Wouldn't you stand to gain from a relationship with that blog owner?
You could make them an affiliate marketer of your product, offering them a portion of the revenue from every sale, giving them incentive to push your product or service to monetize their site.
The fact is, the possibilities are endless.
However, Nothing is For Free
In order to develop these kinds of relationships, you need to look toward the Hare Krishna. When they started out looking for donations, they needed to find a way to get more people to give money.
That's when they started handing out red flowers for free.
This simple gesture caused people to instinctively give back, boosting this group into a multi-billion-dollar enterprise.
And this law applies everywhere – when you give something, people want to give you something back.
It's actually been proven to an almost comical degree, when in one instance, a sociology professor, Phil Kunz, sent 578 Christmas cards to completely random strangers…
Receiving 117 cards back from people who had no idea who he was.
This powerful phenomenon is called the Law of Reciprocity, and it can be one of the best ways to boost your business.
Let's go back to our indirect competition for a second… if you get to know these business owners, learn about them, and understand their needs, you will find yourself in a position to help them out sometime.
Now, I do not personally condone helping people just for the sake of getting something in return…
However, putting yourself out there and giving people things is a fantastic way to build relationships.
And those very people will grow to like you as a person and want to promote you and your product or service.
Not bad for just putting in a little extra effort, right?
Where Can I Begin Making More Money?
The first thing you need to do is identify exactly what your niche is.
Once you know that, start brainstorming only broad market keywords, typically one to three words that categorize what you offer.
When you have a list of 10 to 15 broad keywords, in separate but related categories, try to find as many variations and phrases as you can. Research tools like Market Samurai, Wordtracker, or the Google Keywords (free tool) can help.
The goal is to figure out what the most popular phrase is (by number of monthly searches and level of competition), and make note of companies that come up in those results.
These are your competitors!
Find out everything you can about them and keep a database (but be sure to separate them by direct and indirect). You can even leverage social media to find out when they are doing product releases, giving presentations, and so on…
Go down that list and start forming relationships with your indirect competition while keeping tabs on your direct competitors.
Just these simple acts of doing research and being kind to others will cause your business to skyrocket.
So what are you waiting for? Get started on your Competitive Intelligence today!