Stalk Your Competitors

Stalk Your Competitors


They say a marketer’s job is never done, and when it comes to analysing your competition, nothing could be truer. It’s vitally important to track every aspect of your competitors’ marketing, including their packaging, advertising, promotion, social media and website activity.

Unlike big brands, start-ups generally do not have the resources to track their competition without spending a lot of money and time. But if you make a regular process of it, there are many ways to track your competitors easily and effectively. Here are six places to start.

1. Sign up for Google Alerts.

Getting updates on your competitions’ activity online is absolutely free via Google Alerts, and it couldn’t be easier to set up. Just insert your competitors’ names into the search query and select what results you want to be notified of — including news, blogs, video and discussion. You can have those notifications sent to you as they happen, every day or weekly.

2. Connect with competitors on social media.

‘Like’ and ‘follow’ your competition on Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels. Make sure you track both the brand and its key leaders to get a sense of what they are doing. For example, as a restaurant owner, follow the names of restaurants you compete with as well as the chefs and restaurateurs to get a full picture.

3. Enrol in your competition’s mailings and promotions.

Sign up for your competitors’ email and direct marketing campaigns, commonly known as Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) programmes. Become a regular ‘customer’ and you’ll quickly see what kind of offers they provide and how they stack up to yours.

4. Become a secret shopper 

Conduct shopping trips to try out your competitors’ customer experience, both online and in-store. Purchase your competitors’ products to see what the process feels like. Take notes on the customer service techniques you are seeing, as well as how the assortment of products are sourced, merchandised and priced.

5. Visit their trade show booths 

When you go to trade shows, be sure to pick up your competitor’s materials. For example, if you are in the home furnishing industry, attending a local home show is a great place to pick up competitive brochures, pricing and product line information so that you can stay current to industry trends.

6. Monitor your competitors’ websites 

Keep up with the new functionalities they add and see what kind of traction they may be getting. If you are in the floral business, for example, being familiar with your competitors’ websites will allow you to track information they are offering customers and the trends in floral design, party planning and flower selection they are following.

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Jim Joseph
Jim Joseph is the North American President of New York-based communications agency Cohn & Wolfe, part of the media company WPP Group PLC. Author of The Experience Effect (AMACOM, 2010) and The Experience Effect for Small Business (Happy About, 2012), he teaches marketing at New York University and blogs at