Call it research, but why kid yourself? What you are doing is spying.
And why not? How else are you going to know how your company and your product stack up against your competition? You must check out every aspect of your competition's operation and then objectively compare it with your own.
A prim and proper traditional marketer refers to this as "market research" but a down and dirty Guerrilla Marketer knows it for what it really is -- spying.
There are two basic schools of marketing. There's Lemming marketing, which encourages you to follow the herd, to do exactly what everyone else is doing, even if that means leaping off a financial cliff to certain doom.
And then there's Guerrilla Marketing.
Guerrilla Marketing demands that you put away your checkbook and instead use less costly resources, relying primarily on time, energy, and your imagination as your best and most effective marketing tools.
Know Your Enemy
Before you can launch an effective Guerrilla Marketing campaign you need to know as much about your competitors as possible. You need to appreciate their strengths and, just as importantly, you need to admit and acknowledge your own weaknesses in comparison. And then you need to do something about it.
Guerrilla Marketers don't mince words. The way to evaluate your competition, the way to dissect their inner workings and expose their weaknesses is to spy on them, plain and simple. There are five very simple and straightforward keys that will allow you to lay your competition bare-naked on a slab in front of you for you to pull apart and examine at your leisure.
But before you do that, it is absolutely vital that you set aside your ego and that you are brutally honest not only about your competitor but also about yourself, your organization and your product. If you can't be totally -- and we mean totally -- objective then find someone else who can be, someone with no emotional ties to you or to your business.
The 5 Keys to Spying -- Guerrilla Style
1. Order something. Start by ordering something... from yourself. See how fast and how easy it is to order something from your own website or to buy something at your own store. Evaluate every step involved. Now order something from your competitor. Is your competitor's ordering system faster? Easier? Does it leave you feeling better about your order than your system does? Does your competitor offer a back-end product? If so, appropriate the strong points of your competitor's system and make your system better, faster, and easier.
2. Make a visit. Again, start by making a visit to your own store or your own website. Look around. What is your very first impression? How easy it is to navigate through your store or website? How easy is it to find what you are looking for? Can you get knowledgeable and friendly help when you need it?
Now stop by your competitor's store or website and ask all of the same questions. Look at the smallest of details, because it is often in the details that a sale is made or lost. Again, make note of anything that your competition does that you could copy and improve upon to make shopping on your website or at your store more enjoyable.
3. Phone your competition. How friendly, professional, and helpful is the person who answers your competitor's phone? Is there anything you can learn from this that can be applied to the person answering your phone? Make sure the person who answers your phone smiles when they say "Hello!" A smile can be heard on the other end of the line, and it can set the entire tone of a conversation.
4. Request something to be delivered to you by mail. It doesn't really matter what you ask for. Ask for a brochure or a pricelist, and then see how quickly your request is handled. Is there anything you can learn from your competitor's ability to handle a simple request? Be honest and try your best to beat your competitor.
5. Compare everything. Again, it may serve you well to ask someone else to do this, someone with no emotional tie to you or to your business -- someone who can be brutally honest. Compare everything about your competitor and yourself. Your competitor's appearance vs. your appearance, the look and layout of your competitor's store or website compared to yours. Compare your competitor's service, pricing, packaging, the people they have working for them, their selection of goods and/or services, their follow-up, the look and layout of their signage, the quality of their merchandise, their delivery, their attitude, and just the way you feel after doing business with them as compared to the way you feel after doing business with your establishment.
As a true Guerrilla Marketer it is up to you to make an honest evaluation and then to beat your competition on every single point.
Marketing Spitfires Holly George and Leslie Hamp are creators of the 'Fast Track to Marketing Mastery' program. To learn more about the step-by-step program, and to sign up for their *FREE* Marketing Mastery Success Kit, visit www.boostyourbottomline.com