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How to monitor your competitors

Monitoring your competitors is a big part of creating a worthwhile marketing plan. Monitoring competitors allows you to know them better which can help you to predict what moves they may make in the future, understand their strengths and weaknesses, and exploit those weaknesses, or undermine their strengths with your own.Thus, a proper monitoring of, and analysis of your competition, done regularly, will help you to improve your market position, and capitalize on your own strengths.

There are four parts to monitoring competition. They are as follows:

Collecting the information-
This is where you have to collect information on your competition, make sure the intelligence you gather is accurate, and determine what is important versus what is just fluff information. You can collect this in a number of ways, and the best ways will depend a lot on what type of industry you are part of. You can talk to suppliers and distributors, you can watch the company, you can go in and buy the products or services yourself to evaluate them, you can look at reports that are filed, news stories, and more. Basically, gather information and determine what information you gathered is going to help you assess the company's strengths and weaknesses best.

Convert the information into intelligence-
This is where you take the information you collected and analyze it. For example, if they are only shipping once a week, one of their weaknesses may be that some customers have to wait a longer time for product. You can capitalize on this weakness by offering same day shipping. You want to analyze the competition to determine what they have to offer your consumers, what their biggest strengths are (pricing, customer service, superior product, etc.) and what their biggest weaknesses are. Their strengths are going to be the threats to your market share, and their weaknesses are going to present opportunities for you to gain a greater portion of the existing market, as well as look for ways to address new markets.

Using the intelligence-
Now you need to take the information you collected and turned into intelligence and put it to good use. You have done an analysis on your competition and figured out what their weaknesses are and where they pose threats to you and your market share. Now you should evaluate your own strengths and look for ways to use those strengths in conjunction with the market opportunities you see from your competitor's weaknesses. Basically, apply what you learned to your advantage. This will help you to gain a wider market share, and keep the customers you already have.

Monitoring your competitors is going to give you a distinctive competitive edge, and help you to create a marketing plan that best utilizes the things you do well, as well as helps you find and take advantage of opportunities in your market.

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