Focusing on learning your competition
Marketing your company comes down to understanding your competition and finding a way to increase your visibility. Learning your competition is vital to building your marketing plan and actually gaining the exposure you need to run a successful business.
Your competition is not the enemy like so many other companies will have you believe. It may be a good idea to strengthen your relationships with your competition as many of them may be able to form alliances with you and help you "share" some customers. For example, if you have a non-profit organization that focuses on the prevention of suicide and you sell posters, books, and other things to generate awareness, you may want to focus on your competition that sells videos and other things. Becoming a contractor of theirs, you can sell these videos and make a commission. In return, ask your competition to sell some of your posters and books. You'd be surprised to see just how many companies actually do this and create a stronger marketing campaign.
One of the best ways to learn about your competition is to research them. Find out how they got started, who their CEO/CFO is. Learn about their products and services along with their employees. Order a few of the products and test them out. You also want to learn about how their customer service policy works. Customer satisfaction is huge for companies and its how you remain in business. If your competition doesn't have a strong customer service approach, which is one thing you need to want to focus on. This will help you build a stronger brand image for your company and build upon your relationships with your customers. Look for information online, researching articles and other things that can help you learn about your competition.
Monitor their campaigns
The other way to learn about your competition is to watch what your competitions are doing. You need to monitor their marketing campaigns so you aren't blindsided when they announce a new product or when they are having a big promotion or sale which could attract new customers.
Learn from your competition
Some companies lash out with nasty marketing campaigns against you and other companies in your niche market. You must learn from this and don't go after your competition in the same way. You want to make your company better by taking the high road. Learn for your competition and let them make you become a better company. There will be times when your competitors will beat you and that's okay. You just want to learn from this experience and find a way to beat them in the future. Do your best to show your competitors that you are here to stay and you aren't going to accept defeat easily. Become original and don't let your competition tell you what to do. If you are copying what your competitors are doing, your customers will lose respect for you and they won't order from you anymore. You can take their ideas and learn from them and improve upon them but don't copy them.
You want to be fair even if your competition is being nasty. Showing your customers that you are a respectable organization shows your company in the best light possible and it will build relationships and respect with them. While you may need to get prepared to defend your company once and awhile, don't play dirty. The one thing you do need to watch out for is flat out lies that will damage your companies' reputation, seek legal action if your company has had its reputation damaged at the hands of your competitors.