How to Research Like a Stalker & Find Your Competitive Edge

No, I am not actually advocating you literally stalk your entrepreneurial idols.

 

What I am going to suggest are 5 strategies you can use to research your competition in order to gain your competitive edge.

 

In order to use these strategies you need to employ the same persistence as a stalker (minus the creepy, obsessive tendencies; no restraining orders allowed.)

 

So don’t harass or intimidate. Instead be sneaky and be smart.

 

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

 

Finding a competitive edge is important because everyone is on the lookout for how to stand out from the crowd, or how to differentiate their business.

 

The information you dig up could provide the ultimate advantage you need to increase your conversions, boost your sales or maximise your online presence. It is called a competitive edge for a reason. It is sharp and intense, and that means good things for your business.

 

First, I’ll breakdown, for you, the sleuthing strategies, and then we’ll talk about what information you are looking for.

 

5 STRATEGIES TO RESEARCH THE COMPETITION

 

  1. Subscribe: You want to subscribe to their blog. Their emails contain the super-secret (or not so much) exclusive information they only give out to their subscribers.  So drink the Opt-In Kool-Aid and press the ‘join now’ button.

  2. Read the Comments: Read the comments on some of their posts, (no, not just yours to see if there is a response.) Really look through what people are saying and how Johnny Blogger responds.

  3. Check out their Resources: Read their books, watch their videos, listen to their podcasts. Immerse yourself in their resources. If you feel so inclined and financially able, take their courses.

  4. Analyze Their Social Media: Watch their Twitter feed, check their Facebook posts, and look at their Google+ groups and activities.

  5. Find Them Off-Site: Look for them away from their own blog/business. Do they do guest posts? Speaking engagements? Attend multiple conferences or workshops?

 

Now you have 5 strategies (and no, this is by no means all of them, but enough to get you started.)

 

WHAT DO YOU DO NOW?

 

You’re ready to do all these sneaky and smart things to research your competition, but what do you look for?

 

Your main objective is to find areas where you can obtain a competitive edge over your opponent. Yes, just like in a UFC Fight.

 

Need a little more guidance? Here are some tips for what you need to pay attention to:

 

EXCLUSIVITY:

How exclusive is their ‘insider- information’ only provided to their subscribers? Are they telling you about personal experiences they don’t write about on their blog? Are they giving away free tickets, or books, or resources that you would otherwise have to pay for?

 

Learn what they are providing to their subscribers that works, and find a way to provide something better.

 

ENGAGEMENT:

How much do they interact with their readers? Are there lengthy discussions happening in the comments, or do people get a quick ‘thanks for commenting’ and that’s it? How ‘active’ are they with their audience? 

 

Discover how you can respond to your audience that would be more engaging and effective than theirs.

 

QUALITY & CONSISTENCY:

How good is their content? Are there constant spelling and grammar mistakes, or does it look ‘almost-perfect’ (because you are going to do it better, right?) Is there a consistent quality being published or is it all over the place?

 

Find their content weakness and make it your strength.

 

APPROACHABILITY:

How does their voice/tone come across? Do they seem really stand-offish and superior? Or do they seem extremely approachable to their audience and invested in their experience? Looking at their social media is a good public measure for this.

 

Look at their ‘sociable’ standard and aim higher or lower, the trick is to be approachable enough that people want to interact with you and create lasting connections.  

 

STRETCH TEST:

What are their off-site contributions? Do they do 3 guest posts a month? 5? None? Do they go on podcasts, make their own podcast, or collaborate lots with other entrepreneurs? Or do they do the least minimal ‘outside’ involvement they can?

 

Find out how they stretch their limits and spread their skills and stretch yourself farther (no yoga required.) 

 

These strategies will help you to get started researching your competition, no analytics analysis required. I could give you a list of plenty more, but I have BIG plans for that at a later time. These strategies are a digestible size for you to take action NOW!

 

So, grab some caffeine, a pen, and some paper (or your electronic ‘go-to’ device with Evernote) and start digging.

 

If you feel daunted, overwhelmed, or are just not interested in doing the dirty work, I am happy to do it for you (no pressure.)

 

So go and find the competitive edge you need to ‘one-up’ your competition. The information that you obtain can get you some fantastic results.

 

Pay attention to how you can provide more value to your audience, AND how you can avoid their mistakes. Happy hunting!

 

Talk to me in the comments! What will you do to find your competitive edge? What is your competitive edge? (And yes, I know what mine are and I am in the process of strengthening them!)

 *Photo courtesy photobucket

COMMENTS (18)

What a great post! I love the headline. I agree you need to spend the time looking at what they are doing and saying. Not just grumbling because they are doing well. Subscribe and READ their content, newsetters and make an email swipe of the very best stuff for reference…

    Reply

    Thanks Luke! And thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! You’re right, grumbling will get you nowhere… DO SOMETHING about it! Find your Edge and make it sharper!! And subscribe to their EMAIL…. AN RSS feed is not the same thing!! Thanks again Luke!

    Jo

      Je m&;nuqorabseste un moment et je vois que les posts ont fait leur coming out ici!Non mais le manteau est canon de chez canon et ce sac!!!Sarah, tu es ravissante!

Just want to say that I LOVE this headline. And love me a nice headline!

    Reply

    Thanks Omar!!

      It do#s2&e8n17;t seem like Pathways is very strong in requiring a foreign language in the general core in order to graduate. I don’t think that’s prudent. Students don’t always know what’s good for them, and that’s why they attend college to learn all the things they don’t know, but need to know to be a well rounded and productive person.

    Reply

    Daniel – very interesting analysis. To make the comparison more complete, though – you should factor in carbon emissions from the serving incrtstrufaure (in addition to the client-side laptops). That would include servers, along with the proportional share from routers, switches and other devices that transmit packets from the serving infrastructure down to the client laptops

Reply

Hey Jo,

Awesome article here. A lot of your tips here remind me of the old quote (not sure who said it): “Keep your friends close, and keep your enemies closer.”

It’s not to say that your competitors are necessarily “enemies.” But by staying close to them and really learning every aspect of what they are, what they do, and how they do it, you can really learn how to beat them at their own game.

Most successful people don’t get there by inventing something completely new – 99% of the time, it’s all about taking something that exists, and making it better.

Good stuff!

Cheers,
Eric Gati
http://www.thedailyinterview.com

    Reply

    Thanks so much Eric! I know exactly what you mean, and it is so true for figuring out your edge and how you can stand out from the crowd! Put on your Storm Trooper Boots and see what they do and then do it better! Jo

Reply

Love the headline, but the post really delivers. Esp. that you don’t just give the tips, but what to do with the information once you get it. Nice post!

    Reply

    Thanks so much Rachel! Glad that the post resonated with you and was helpful!

      Here’s a question handled more directly than usual on Moewhwniss–doy don’t Jewish Americans fight first the racism in their own back yards? Malcolm X would approve:

Reply

Great article, Jo. I love how clear and actionable all the tips are – good advice to help you consider and assess the competition.

    Reply

    Thanks so much Nathan!! 🙂 Sorry I didn’t reply sooner, this got missed somehow!

    jo

    Reply

    L'articolo è sicuramente semiserio : se non era Facebook, sarebbe stato Myspace o qualsiasi altra piattaforma di soirnl-netwoikcag !Poi comunque ognuno può utilizzare la piattaforma di social-networking che gli pare !Molti di quelli che hanno lasciato Facebook e che conosco personalmente, preferiscono Msn !

Reply

Great post Jo!
I’ve got some competitor analysis planned for April (starting tomorrow, thus!). I know I badly need it, I’ve just been putting it off because I know it will take tiiiiiime. But I want to do it properly.

PS Would be cool if I could subscribe to the comments here:)

    Reply

    Thanks Sofie!! 🙂 Good luck with the analysis! It is definitely time consuming but so worth it! Let me know if you have any questions! I am putting together a great guide for people to do this, it’s almost done! I thought there was the option to subscribe to comments… I will look into that! Thanks for letting me know!

    jo

Reply

Great news from all apsects for your trip, thanks for your special message to us at this time, much aptpiceared. We shall be first in the queue to buy your book so will look forward to it.We are so proud of you. The podcast is really good. Hope to be in touch with your Mum tonight but she will tell you more when you are next in touch.Take care, yes someone else is watching over you 24 hours each day,Mucxh loveC & K

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