What’s the Competition Up To?

Mark Riffey over at the "Business is Personal" blog asks the musical question, "Are you paying attention to your competition?"  He points out that last week, when Mozilla released the new version of the Firefox browser, the Internet Explorer team at Microsoft sent them a cake to congratulate them on their achievement.  What a great idea!

Clearly the boys and girls from Redmond, WA are watching their competitors.  But, are you?  If not, it’s like driving an Indy car with a blindfold on.  You may be able to find your way around the oval track, but if you don’t know where the other cars are, you’re probably going to crash and burn.

In another life, BT (before Tacony) I called on Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and Woolco (out of business along with their parent, Woolworth’s).  Like all guests, I had to sign a visitors log book.  The majority of the names in the log were always competitive shoppers.  The Marts shopped each other, they shopped Woolco, and Woolco shopped them.  It wasn’t a secret.  Every body knew everybody else.  The only rule was that they never carried a notebook or recorder.  They could take away as much information as they could carry in their heads.

Today information is much easier to find, what with the Internet and all, but sometimes you still have to dig.  When was the last time you took the time to shop the big boxes?  What about your direct competitors, other independent retailers? 

We used to have a competitor in the ceiling fan business who would visit all the other fan companies at the end of the big industry trade show.  The object of the visit was to exchange catalogs and price lists.  He felt like everyone was better off if we all had the right information, and he was right.  There are no secrets in most industries anyway, so why be enemies?

But even if your particular marketplace isn’t open to such a friendly approach to competition, you still need all the information you can get to compete effectively.  You might not want to go so far as to send your biggest competitor a cake when he opens a new location, but it couldn’t hurt, could it?

Suggestion:  Set up a Goole News Alert for yourself, all of your competitors, and for the lines they (and you) carry.  Whenever any of the names of phrases you’ve selected shows up on the web, you’ll get an email. 


Hint:  Be sure you choose "Comprehensive" from the "type" drop-down list.  That way you’ll receive alerts when the search term comes up in a blog or on a web site.

One Response

  1. Regularly shopping the competition has been on my list of things to do for years! Knowing what was going on “out there” helps you make good business decisions. I loved the Google Alert tip and plan on signing up!

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