In This Chapter
• Identifying competitors
• Tracking new competitors
• Watching job listings
• Participating in discussion boards
Every business has competitors. That's a fact of business. What the web makes much easier is finding those competitors and analyzing how they're doing business, what successful strategies they're using, and how to leverage that knowledge to improve your own website and online presence.
A gas station owner has an easy job identifying competitors; they need simply drive around the neighborhood and fill up their tank to see price, layout, what's for sale in the convenience store, cleanliness, gauge the friendliness of the employees, and so on.
A service provider has a more difficult task, especially if your competitors might be home-based. It's very difficult to walk down a suburban street and figure out which houses have programmers, marketing consultants, or graphic designers in the basement.
Note: On the Internet, your competitors can just as easily be 5000 miles away, on a different continent. Cast a wide net to find all the companies that compete for your customers.
The Internet erases geographic boundaries for many companies, too, so while 20 years ago your competitors were all located within 10 miles of your office, today almost all businesses are global in scope. The programmer who can add a customer database to your website could just as easily live in Bangalore or Thailand as in Oshkosh or West Lafayette.
Retail stores are learning about this change the hard way, as many realize belatedly that the convenience of being located in a busy shopping mall can easily be overcome by an online store with lower prices, free shipping, and no sales tax.
Inside The Book