Here are 5 ways that you can start to identify your real competition.

1) Google your top 3-5 key phrases. Create a Google search related to what your ideal customers would type in to look for your services. If you operate within a specific geographic location then also include your town, city or zip code in the search. Browse the companies that come up on the first 1-2 pages. When you do this try not to use industry jargon. This isn’t how your customers are searching.

2) Search on social media. Similar to the Google search mentioned above you want to search for competitors on the social media platform your customers are likely to use. If you’re service is B2B then default to LinkedIn. If you’re B2C then use Facebook. Even if you don’t utilize social media in your business just yet, don’t assume that you’re customers aren’t using it. And I can almost guarantee that your top competitors ARE using social media to build trust within their market. Go check them out.

3) Ask your customers. Follow up with your BEST customers and find out who else they considered working with and why they chose you. Your best customers will be those who buy from you repeatedly and refer others to your business. These are your golden customers and you want as many as you can handle so be sure to find which of your competitors are on their radar.

4) Ask your prospects. Try to have a process in place so that you can ask prospective customers who else they are considering working with and what they’re likely to base their decision on. Since most prospects will default to “price” be sure to dig a bit and find out what else might make them confident to hire you or one of your competitors. You can also follow up with prospects you know went somewhere else. This is actually a great sign that you value their opinion and you might even get future business this way. Especially if they aren’t completely thrilled with the company they hired.

5) Look around. Who do you see showing up everywhere? If YOU see them then it’s likely your customers are seeing them too. This means online AND offline. Who are you losing work to and why? Always keep your eyes open.

Keep an ongoing spreadsheet with your competition and identify their niche, strengths and weaknesses.

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