Time to spy on your competitors?
Your competitors could be plotting a game changer in your industry. Therefore, it is important to know what your competitors are up to on a regular basis. A little insider information can be extremely useful and it may be time to spy on your competitors a little.
Especially if they are:
- trying to gain a competitive advantage over you;
- setting their discount and value add; and
- approaching the market differently to you.
Likewise, what do they tell your customers in their efforts to lure your customers from you? What promises might your competitors make to your clients that potentially takes money off your table?
That information would be very helpful to have.
A true story in 60 seconds
When I finished my Master of Science in Denmark and took on my first management job (in Texas of all places), I quickly learned that I needed to know my competitors’ financial position, sales and marketing, and pricing strategies. My job was to buy health clubs.
I had the title of Vice President for Business Development, and as a young man, I was proud of this title. I scouted out competitors and offered to buy them. To do my job effectively, I needed inside information and of course, I couldn’t just walk in and ask the owner of a business for confidential information.
Strategically, this information aided in our decision making to determine whether we:
- wanted to buy that business (and at what price);
- buy another (competing) business;
- attack the market with a low pricing model with high volume or vice-versa, or maybe exit the market completely due to their business plans.
Whichever way the decision went, information was required.
I struggled to obtain this information from private companies. However, I learned to target and approach staff for information. I sounded out employees on their careers, what they have learned so far, how this learning was utilised in their current position, and how they saw their employer’s competitive situation.
I found that staff could talk quite freely about their employer’s business, and from this, I quickly obtained valuable information that often changed our business thinking.
We learned of new ways of doing business; often ways we had not previously considered or taken seriously. If you want information, ask the right people!
Today, after having opened about 10 business and having been recruiting for more than 25 years, I see every recruitment drive as an opportunity to obtain competitor information.