Scrutinise your competitors, and become friends with them, too. You just might partner to pitch a client, buy one out (or vice versa), or grow the industry together.
Here’s a truth: At BzzAgent, the word-of-mouth marketing firm where I’m CEO, I go to ridiculous extremes to obtain information about our competitors.
I scan Crunchbase, study websites, and download mobile apps. I troll shamelessly for gossip about our rivals’ executive teams and star players. And occasionally—when I’m really on my game—I hit pay dirt and obtain a competitor’s proposal to a client. And when that happens, our team goes to work. We dissect it for valuable bits of information about our opponents’ pricing models, positioning, and capabilities. And it’s this information that allows us to accelerate our innovation, understand where our competitors are strong—and determine how we can exploit their weaknesses.
For instance, from one proposal we learned that our flat-fee model was being devalued by another company’s “cost-per-engagement” pricing. We created a strategy to counter that objection with clients and prospects. And a few years ago, we got the inside scoop on a new opponent’s practice of throwing in-home product-distribution parties for marketers and got ahead of market by developing the next evolution of the concept.