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Prospecting Your Competition to Improve Your Bottom Line

Robert Speyer

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Having a small marketing budget does not have to be a limitation. To be an effective online marketer, you just need to be a little more resourceful. You already know what's working and, more importantly, what's not! So why not take advantage of the resources that are all over the Internet - namely your competition.

Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War said, “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer!" This directly relates to online marketing. By learning from your competition, you can greatly improve your bottom line.

If you don't know who your top competitors are, you can search for them via phonebooks and Google or any other search engine. Attend industry conventions and seminars to learn more about your field as well as meet competitors. Once you are on a competitor's site, look for key points such as:

  • Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or Business Strategy - What makes this company stand out from the others? What market does it appeal to?
  • Product and/or Service Positioning - How are the products and services attracting customers? What attributes are highlighted.
  • Special Offers and Downloads ¬- What types and do the offers relate to the brand. Do they have opt-ins or another way to capture viewer information?
  • Content - Do they have valuable content? How is it different from yours - better or worse? Is it geared toward a target market?

    You can use competitors’ ideas as a base to expand and grow from, especially if they are getting results. Try signing up for any reports, newsletters and downloads so that you can monitor exactly what they are offering to customers. Competitor newsletters can also help you plan ideas for articles and other points of interests for your clients.

    Next, try to imagine yourself as a customer. See how they phrase promotions and what keywords they use and highlight. Research their keywords to see how lucrative they are compared to yours. Then determine if your keywords need to be revamped. Third-party ranking trackers such as comScore, Alexa and many others can help you find out how high your business ranks next to your competitors.

    If you are researching a local competitor, try checking how community orientated it is. Do they support charities? Do they attend trade shows? Also look for press releases both on and offline. Technorati and Google Alerts can help you monitor competitor releases.

    Your competitors are your best resource. Not only are they experts in your field, but can also help you position your business. You can never know how well your business is doing unless you know who your competitors are and how they operate. Remember, web success lies in keeping competitors close.

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