This is a question I ask every business I consult and you'll be surprised how many people don't know much.
I assume that you want to be the best in your business, but without knowing anything about your competition how are you going to do that? You may want to carry on oblivious to your competitors, but doing so could actually harm your business. Why? Because understanding your competition is important to ensure you are offering at least the same level of service. If they’re offering something better than you, you’re going to be losing a lot of customers and probably quite fast.
Don’t just rely upon Google search
Has everything you’ve found out about your competitors so far come from a quick Google search? If so, it’s time you expanded your research. Businesses should also be making use of the various tools out there designed to help them keep up with competitors. Spyfu for example, is recommended to see which keywords your competitors are targeting and the type of Adwords campaigns they’re using.
What type of things should you be looking out for?
A quick browse of your competitor websites will give you some insight into the products and services they offer. It will also show you how they’re presenting their services to consumers. This is very basic information that can help, but there are many other things you should be looking out for. So what exactly should you know about your competition?
Info entrepreneurs has an excellent list of the main things you should know about your competitors. What tools they use to improve customer loyalty and how they distribute their products and services are just a couple of things you should look into. It’s also worth keeping track of their digital marketing campaigns. What tricks are they using to draw customers in?
Also don't forget simple offline activities like talking to people who have used your competitor's products. (I know shock horror talking to people, don't worry you can do it on the phone you don't have to do it face to face).
Learning more about how your competition does business can really help you to improve your own services and get ahead of them. For example, you could see what isn’t currently working for them and ensure you aren’t making the same mistakes. It’s also worth looking into what they don’t offer. In order to stand out, you need to be providing customers with something different from the competition. You can’t do this without first knowing exactly what it is they do and don't offer.
Not rocket science is it so you'll be surprised why more people don't do it.
Overall analysing and thoroughly researching the competition is vital in business. It’s not enough to do a one-off quick Google search. Instead you need to be constantly monitoring them and seeing how they are performing. It’s time consuming but can deliver massive benefits in the long-term.