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Know Your Competition:Then Forget ThemIt's useful to take the time to get to know your competition. In fact, it's even better to develop a relationship with them. This may sound crazy - but you can often learn a lot from watching what your competitors do. You'll gain the most from those rare competitors who actually SHARE insights into their businesses.
How do you find out who your competitors are? Here are a few tips:
- Listen to your customers.
- Cruise the Internet yourself. No matter how busy you are, take time to do this on a regular basis to see what comes up and what others are doing. Check blogs, conduct searches, and keep up with current technological trends.
- Get involved. Read appropriate periodicals, attend shows, join trade organizations - you'll meet and learn about others who are doing what you do. You can get lots of ideas this way.
- Do business with them. Many businesses do what is called "mystery shopping" to get a realistic idea of what their competitors are doing. They contact them with questions or even buy things from them occasionally to find out how they do business. You can do this yourself or if you prefer, ask a friend or family member to check them out for you, then report back. Sound crazy? Businesses do it every day. Ruby Lane conducts a secret shopper program on the site shopping businesses in all of our lanes on a regular basis. We learn how to better serve the needs of our customers and shop owners and make recommendations that benefit everyone as a result of what we learn. We also shop our competitors, and we know they mystery shop us as well.
Once you've gotten to know something about your competition - forget them. That's right - forget them. Some businesses focus too much attention on what others around them are doing - and they react defensively. If you have a thriving business and great business ideas - do your thing regardless of what others are doing. Your business will be unique to any other, which will give it a much greater chance of success.