If your budget allows, use an outside market research organization to track competitors’ activities and test product and marketing concepts through focus groups. The investment could have a big payoff for you.
If you cannot use a professional organization, try some of the following surveying techniques on your own:
In-person interviews: Question individuals with the aim of gaining insights about competitors. Such questioning could reveal gaps that can be converted into opportunities. Those interviewed could be users of your product or service, competitors’ sales reps, and distributors. Telephone interviews: These interviews are somewhat difficult to secure with the prevalent use of voice mail and a variety of electronic devices. However, if handled by individuals who can gain the interviewees’ attention because of their reputation, or by trading hard- to-find information, then this technique could be a good source of information.
Surveys: Questionnaires by mail or Internet are useful to acquire product information about competitors’ products and services. In such instances, you can avoid using your company name. Instead, use the name of a generic-sounding research organization. In such research, and depending on the type of product, it is useful to offer an incentive for taking the time to fill out the questionnaire.
Social networking: Increasing attention is being given to listening in on the online conversations on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube about products, services, and companies. Procter & Gamble, for instance, launched social media campaigns for its big brands. It targeted 25- to 54-year-old women who are above-average Facebook users, and were the point of P&G’s concentration.
Even the ultimate outcome of a (conflict) is not always to be regarded as final. The defeated state often considers the outcome merely as a transitory evil, for which a remedy may still be found ... at some later date.
In one instance, a survey conducted by a publisher of trade magazines found to its surprise that there was very little overlap between the magazine subscribers, trade show attendees, and website users. Discovering that audiences were significantly larger than indicated by the subscriber lists opened up a high-value opportunity by which “a remedy may still be found.”