Keeping an Eye on Your Competition – Automatically

By Beacon Staff

Last week we talked about becoming the Google of your market.

Part of being the Google is keeping an eye on yourself, your competition and your market niche.

Sounds like a heck of a lot of work, doesn’t it? It can be, but the internet has a way of making things like this far easier.

Yes, I just started talking about that thing that everyone hates to do (besides paperwork), the dreaded M word: Market research. Obviously, I can’t cover this topic to the level of detail that it deserves but I do have a few quick tips to help you keep track of a few important things.

Things like what your competitors are doing. What are people saying about your business, products and services on the internet? What are people saying about your competitor’s products and services? What’s new in your market? What’s the next disruptive force in your industry?

Ok, ok. So what do you do in order to find out these things?

First thing is decide what you want to learn about and keep an eye on.

So let’s make a list.

Competitors: Pick 3 or 5 or whatever number makes sense and write them down.

Products and services: Write down the names of your products and services. Do the same for your competitors.

Market/Industry: This is one of the cases where I will actually ask you to use your geeky industry terms (as opposed to in your marketing where they cause eye-rolling and “next!”). Make a list of these terms. Make a list of the trends people have started talking about in your industry. Make a list of the PEOPLE in your industry, particularly the ones who you would sit up all night and listen to.

Ok, now that you have seven yellow pads with stuff written all over them, what do you DO with them?

Well, you could Google them manually. That’ll happen for at least a day or two before you get bored with it.

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could do this automatically, and only have to pay attention to it on the days when something was out there to fit your list of names? Well, for only $27.95 you can do that, complete with 2 sets of Ginsu knives. But wait, there’s more!

Oh, wait. Wrong column.

Seriously, you can have this research done for nothing and have it placed in front of you on a silver platter.

Mosey over to http://www.google.com/alerts and you’ll find a nifty free tool there that will do just what we’ve been talking about.

What is Google Alerts?

Well, it’s a way to automate Google searches, with some restrictions, and have Google email you automatically when the search finds something.

There are five kinds of searches available in Alerts at the moment.

  • News – contains the search terms of your choice AND appears in the 10 top if you used those keywords on the Google news search
  • Blogs – contains the search terms of your choice and appear in the top 10 results of a Google blog search
  • Web – contains the search terms of your choice and appear in the top 20 results of a Google web search
  • Comprehensive – combines the news, web and blog search types.
  • Video – contains the search terms of your choice and appears in the top 10 results of a Google video search
  • Groups – contains the search terms of your choice and appears in the top 50 results of a Google groups search.

As you may have noticed from some of the things I write, one of my clients owns a coffee shop in Billings. So what would I put in my Google Alerts to help me help them improve their business? How about Starbucks and their other competitors? And of course, the name of the client’s coffee shop, and the brands of equipment they use, just for starters.

This isn’t about me though, it’s about you. You should start making your “I want to keep an eye on” list today and get it into Google Alerts.

Today.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him at mriffey@flatheadbeacon.com.

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