Review the Competitive Landscape
You have to determine what the competition is doing and how the market landscape might be changing. Knowing this shifts power into your hands.
As you gather this information, look for those businesses you believe are the smartest players in your space. Figure out what makes them outstanding. Then compare them to you – how do you stack up? Also assess what’s weak about the competition. What opportunities are they clearly leaving on the table for you to scoop up? Next, create a list of things that have to be transformed in your business in order for you to grow.
And beyond individual competition, what about the market in general? We’re always trying to stay abreast of overarching market trends. Change can be a great thing for you, but only if you know it’s coming. Be sure your business and what you offer are positioned in the path of where the whole market is moving.
Consider Customer Surveys
To become more attuned to what your customers are thinking, feeling and wanting, don’t hesitate to ask them to fill out a survey.
Surveys collect information – whether online, or in the form of a questionnaire handed or mailed out to customers. They’re always voluntary, though some survey techniques yield better results than others.
A great way to get more people to participate is to provide them an incentive. Try to provide a “value exchange,” where you provide a valuable incentive that’s proportionate to the value you get from the survey. We once gave free copies of Microsoft Office software to online survey respondents, and the effort was not only a success, but a quick one. In just one weekend, we collected all the data we were seeking.
The information collected in surveys can be used in many ways but, first and foremost, to gain insight about your customers and how you might be able to serve them better.
One not-so-obvious benefit of surveying customers is that just by asking them questions, you’re showing your customers that you care what they think. That can have positive ramifications as they make future purchasing decisions.
As for providers of online surveys, consider using Survey Monkey or the “Create a Poll” function in our Community Forum.