Monitoring Your Competitors
Along with your customers and employees, your competitors are critical people to know and understand. Often, competitors are just thought of as the "enemy." These individuals or companies keep you from getting more business.
However, competitors can be more than the "enemy." They can:
Most business owners know their competitors and generally how they compare with the owners' own company. Having a greater understanding of competitors can provide clues for making enhancements to your own company's activities.
Understanding your markets
Getting competitive information on others in your industry is easy. Visit their web site or walk through their store. Either way, you will probably learn a great deal. If you attend or exhibit at trade shows or conferences, be sure to pick up some competitive materials or talk to their representatives. You learn about the company and you may meet a prospective hire.
If your competitors are publicly held, be sure to review their annual reports. The CEO letter at the beginning of an annual report is often where the CEO tells the world about his plans, brags about the company's strengths/ accomplishments and addresses the critical issues facing his company.
You can also talk to your customers and prospects about the competition. Getting their insights will give you an idea of why they do business with your company or what it would take to make them a customer. Most customers and prospects will be relatively frank in those types of discussions.
Understanding your strongest competitors can identify areas where you can improve and potentially some niches the strong competitors are ignoring. Knowing more about your weak competitors can help you identify your strengths that you can exploit. You may even be able to identify a competitor's customers that would be your best prospects. Customers usually know their vendors' strengths and weaknesses.
Getting additional business from competitors
Acquiring your competitors or parts of them
An exit strategy for you