The Importance of Competitive Analysis

Companies that dissect their competitive analysis have a great potential in gaining edge on their target market. If the business is strictly looking at their competition and what they’re doing or not doing, then they have missed the point. Instead, competitive analysis begins with the business’s customers.

While some companies understand this concept and truly know their customers’ requirements, they may only need to focus on their competition. Though for many companies, this is not the case. So as an alternative, many businesses need both: competitive analysis and customer analysis.

For a firm to gain sales and increase market share investigating top competitors is just as important as evaluating your own firm’s strengths and weaknesses. Since competitive data is a vehicle used to earn the business of customers, it would be in a firm’s best interest to learn more about the customers’ needs rather than be top-heavy over the alignment of a competitor.

Consensus: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Focusing primarily on beating the competition will not crack the capital out of your eggs, since the customer is your golden one, not the competition.

As quoted by Soren Kierkegaard, “life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Take this into a business perspective. Dig to find and understand what the target customers are trying to achieve with your firm’s offerings and how they perceive its value. Taking this path will lead you to understanding you competitive strengths and weaknesses from the customer’s point of view and essentially leave you in better footing.

Capturing customer needs is the catalyst in establishing competitive advantage and making innovation and growth a predictable business process. Through this, Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt’s famous quote can be understood: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill; they want a quarter-inch hole.”

Levitt’s quote can be dissected into three points:
1. Customer needs and solutions should not be treated equally as they are separate and distinct.
2. What customers want to accomplish will tell us what they need; don’t get caught up in product or service specifications.
3. The best way to capture target customers’ needs is to skillfully interview them.

An exceptionally important task to accomplish after establishing the needs of the customer is to rate the need by importance, as it will help allocate resources. When the customers’ needs are being met appropriately – whether it’s through competitive advantage, delivering experiences customers love, better branding, innovation, etc. – it equates to customer satisfaction and, basically, a better relationship.

Determine your firm’s strengths and weaknesses compared to your rivals. Then, have your customers rate how satisfied they are on each important need to determine your competitive advantage. What better way of knowing your strengths and weaknesses than going directly to the source?

Targeting customers- yours and rivals- can provide you with essential information regarding satisfaction and importance of need. This material can be used to compare how well you are meeting the needs of your customers against your rivals target customers and how you can get ahead of the curve. Additionally, it provides an opportunity to initiate or meet the needs of customers that no company is satisfying, a mere opportunity for growth through innovation.

Customers are king, begin with understanding them.

NFL ‘Fan Engagement’ can teach your business a few things

Americans love football. After the start of the season this past weekend, there’s no escaping the crazed
fans all over social media.

It’s no coincidence that football is one of the most watched and talked about sports in America. The
National Football League has strategically managed to make football America’s favorite sport through
constant fan engagement – something all businesses should take note of.

Below are the top 6 lessons a business can take from the NFL “fan engagement” playbook:

1. Make your product accessible

No matter where you are in the world, if you have internet access, you can watch your favorite football
team play their opponents week after week throughout the season. You can watch current games or
games as far back as the first televised game between the Eagles and the Dodgers in 1939.
In addition to being available via the internet, the NFL sells its merchandise in most major stores, builds bigger stadiums to accommodate fans and has launched its own network. You can have all the NFL you want, whenever you want it.

Starbucks has a similar business model. It seems like Starbucks is everywhere, because it is. That’s
exactly how they want to be perceived. You can get Starbucks in the retail location but also in places like Target or you can buy their prepackaged drinks from most supermarkets. Their product is available
almost everywhere for anyone that wants it.

2. Invite your fans to be part of the team.

The Seattle Seahawks have done an especially impressive job with this. If you are a Seahawks fan, you
have earned the right to call yourself the 12th man. The 12s are what the Seahawks call their fans. In
1984 the number 12 was actually retired from the team and a number 12 flag is raised before every
game. Fans feel like they are contributing to the team and because of this the Seahawks’ stadium is one
of the loudest in the world and has actually made the earth shake.

Your customers want to feel like they are part of a team when they choose to do business with you. Give
them a voice by asking them for reviews or offering a consumer survey for their opinion. Embracing
user-generated content, like pictures of people using your product, can be a great way to get them
involved. People like to feel like they are a part of something.

A great example of this comes from eyeglass manufacturer, Warby Parker. Every month they share their
favorite photos of customers wearing its glasses on its official Instagram account.

3. Embrace social media

Every team in the NFL has its own Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account to keep the fans engaged.
Those accounts provide the fans with up-to-date news while highlighting specific fans and giving them
chances to win prizes. Some teams have used Snapchat to reveal schedules, create stories for upcoming
games or announce new available products.

Social media can make a huge difference when building a brand image. What a business needs to keep
in mind when using social media is to provide something that your “fans” are going to want to see.

4. Stay fresh and relevant

The NFL often updates the game to keep it interesting and appealing. For example, in 1912, touchdowns
went from four points to six points. In 1965, the NFL and the AFL merged to grow its fan base and add
more competition to the game. Two years following the merge, the Super Bowl was played for the first
time. Other changes have included the introduction of Wild Card teams, modifications to overtime
rules and the frenzy free agency creates every March when the new season begins.

Apple is a great example of a company that always updates their products to stay fresh and relevant to
the consumer. Every year, a new operating system is released with updates and new features. They also
release a new phone. The phone may not be very different from the last version but if you are a person
that needs the latest and greatest products, you’ll buy the newest iPhone available.

5. Constantly improve fan experience

It doesn’t matter if you’re watching the game from home or in the stadium; the NFL is always looking for
new ways to improve your viewer experience. If you are at the game, the stadiums have put in large
screens so that you can see every play. Some stadiums have added extra features like free WiFi and apps
that tell you how long the lines for the bathroom are.

For the fans watching from home, the NFL offers NFL Red Zone. Red Zone shows all scoring plays in
every game currently in play. This specifically appeals to those in fantasy football leagues.
All businesses need to keep their customers’ needs front and center and improve upon your services
based on those needs. Whole Foods provides a good example of this. They offer recipes, instructional
videos and specific local store information for their customers on their website.

6. Partnerships are key

The NFL has made many lucrative partnerships throughout the years to expand the brand. EA sports has
been contracted to make Madden NFL, to bring the football excitement to video game players. They also
have deals with DirecTV, Twitter, Google and Verizon to make it easier for people to follow their favorite teams on the go.

The League also has a number of socially based partnerships to give back to the community. It has
teamed up with EPA, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the Joyful Heart

The right partnerships can be a great way to open up new markets and create a positive brand image.
Another great example of this was Uber partnering with Spotify to allow riders to choose their own
music during their Uber ride.

No matter the projections before the season, fans will always flock to watch their teams. Why? Because
you never know what is going to happen. The NFL has the ability to surprise and delight their fans game
after game. Your business has the ability to do the same for your fans. Keep your fans on the edge and
deliver something unexpected.

Don’t Assume a Quiet Customer is a Happy Customer

LoyaltyOne and Verde Group released a study that discovered four out of five shoppers who have had an awful experience as a customer don’t give criticism. Often, just a little feedback will allow retailers to settle the issue.

The investigation of 2,500 U.S. shoppers found that almost all buyers have encountered an issue when they shop, however just 19 percent of buyers will advise the retailer to allow them to address the issue.

Dennis Armbruster, VP and managing partner at LoyaltyOne, noted in a news release, “The results are a resounding confirmation that poor customer experiences have a considerable negative impact on shopper spend and attrition, which can run into the billions.”

Brick and mortar issues
The specialists noticed a number of the ways that these unsatisfied clients can cost retailers cash. Among these quiet customers, around one in three said they were unlikely to suggest the retailer to loved ones, putting these customers at danger of diminishing their go through with the retailer.

The study likewise found that clients who spend the most are the more prone to be irritated by a negative ordeal. Customers disappointed by checkout hold up times reported spending 23 percent more than the normal mass retail client.

Retail establishments should also be worried about the state of mind their workers show. Customers turned off by an employee’s “not-my-area of expertise” demeanor reported spending twice as much as the normal retail chain client.

Online retailer issues
For online retailers, delivery was a typical concern of high spenders. Clients who referred to their failure to acquire a particular date or time to get an online request reported spending 66 percent more than the rest of the group.

The analysts computed how greatly unsatisfied clients could possibly cost per organizations taking into account their industry:

  • Mass merchandisers are putting 25 percent of potential income at danger.
  • Clothing retailers are putting 16 percent of potential income at danger.
  • Retail chains are putting 15 percent of potential income at danger.
  • Drugstores are putting 12 percent of potential income at danger.
  • Food merchants are putting 11 percent of potential income at danger.

Issues will happen, yet business owners should relieve the risk by asking clients to tell them and give them a chance to fix the issues. Customers who did inform retailers of their poor experience and had their issue totally resolved were 84 percent less likely than noiseless customers to be at danger of diminishing their spend.

This exploration demonstrates the significance of proactive client administration. Business owners who accept that all clients who don’t gripe are fulfilled are possibly losing a great deal of business. Business owners should urge shoppers to raise issues they have. Entrepreneurs ought to likewise verify that their representatives know the significance of introducing an uplifting mentality when they associate with clients. For online retailers, they can head off client disappointment by giving a great deal of transportation alternatives and being forthright about basic inquiries with the items.

FAA Conference

FAA conf. pic 1Shoppers’ Critique International was proud to be included among the sponsors at the 2015 Florida Attractions Association Annual Conference held in Fort Myers from June 7 through June 10.  Jake Dancy, Operations Manager, and Kevin Nixon, National Sales Manager, took part in the event, the theme of which was “Charting Your Course.”  The focus of the event was celebrating the excellence in the Florida attraction’s community while exploring new horizons for growth and expanding networks for continued success.

Keynote speakers at the conference were Cindy Novotny, the founder of Master Connection Associates and Guy Harvey, the founder of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.  Additional insights were shared by Will Seccombe, President and CEO of Visit Florida, and Paul Phipps, CMO of Visit Florida.

Jake Dancy expressed his appreciation, saying, “I would like to thank Bill Lupfer, Mike Donaldson, the FAA staff and the Board of Directors for hosting such a wonderful event. It was a pleasure to attend and very well put together. There were a number of great speakers and guests and we really appreciated learning from all of them. In addition to the great speakers, breakout sessions and networking opportunities, we are excited about the relationships and partnerships we built at the conference.”

In addition to all of the networking and business at hand, attendees were treated to local tours and outdoor events celebrating the beautiful and one of a kind attractions Florida has to offer. Kevin Nixon, who attended the event for the first time, said, “I am so happy I got the opportunity to attend the 2015 FAA Conference! I had a great time and got a chance to meet some amazing people. The events were really enjoyable, the speakers were excellent; it was an overall great experience in a beautiful location. The conference definitely exceeded my expectations and I am already looking forward to next year!”

It is our honor to serve the FAA and the membership and we look forward to many more years of successful partnership. It is always a pleasure to spend time with our fellow members who are committed to the association and passionate about providing a superlative guest experience in Florida.

Nobody Raves About Average – A Story from Roxanne Brown

Roxanne Brown, of Purple Land Management, recently posted a story on her LinkedIn profile that really hit home for us here at Shoppers’ Critique. We spend our time making sure that our clients have happy customers. Our findings can be quite surprising to managers and company owners if they do not support a customer service oriented business model. Below is what Roxanne had to say about her experience with customer service, or the lack of:

This weekend I had to do the unthinkable – I had to go to the mall. I typically avoid going on the weekends thanks to the throngs of teenagers, pushy kiosk salesmen and overall pain in the butt parking. This time though I had to go and tried to make the best of it. After fending for myself in the store, I waited in line while I watched an angry exchange between a customer and the store manager involving a coupon gone wrong and it made me think…..Does no one understand customer service anymore?

As a land services provider, my job is to keep my client/customer (E&P companies) happy. Part of how I do that is by providing a great quality product at a fair price. But there’s more to it than that. It’s my goal to always add more value to my services and to make my customer feel even better about their experience with me.

One of the ways I accomplish this is to remind myself that even my boss (the client) has a boss. And EVERYONE wants to do a good job for their superiors. At the start of every project I ask my clients what their meeting schedule is and how they report on the work they have going on in the field. This allows me to tailor my product to make them look good. For example, if a client tells me that they meet with their bosses every Friday to discuss the projects they have going, I can make sure to give a concise and easy to read summary to them every Thursday. This means they go into their meetings on Friday with a clear picture of exactly where my project is and allows them to answer any/all questions their supervisors may have. Voila! Everyone is happy and my client looks like a rockstar.

Another way I make customer service a top priority is to work with my clients and their budgets. If I know what their end goal is, I can always give them options on how to best achieve that and allow them to pick what best suits their needs. I recently had a client who needed to drill 10 wells in the next 3 months. I sat down with them and went through possible scenarios to meet their needs – maybe it would be best to bring on more people in order to get the project done faster. Sometimes I can talk to the title attorney and find out things that aren’t so important that we can skim over and save some time on. Other times we can save some money by actually scanning in the documents and making them searchable on the computer, thus saving mileage, hotels, etc. for the people who are working the project. One or all of these things combined often times makes the difference between my client staying profitable or not. In this particular case I was able to bring them in on time and under budget.

The days of sending a box of chocolates or a bottle of liquor to a client are over. Those things may be nice, but they can buy their own dessert. Bottom line – they need real value and good old fashioned customer service. Today I’d like to challenge you to think of ways you can help your client’s succeed and provide them with the best customer service possible.

If you own or manage a business, your job is to make sure your customers receive the product and service they’re looking for. If you can succeed in providing great customer service, your customers will not only come back for more, they are likely to recommend your business to their friends as well.

Kevin Nixon Joins Shoppers’ Critique International Sales Team

Addition Further Advances SCI’s Commitment to Customer Relationships & Customer Intelligence

(Longwood, FL – March 12, 2015) Shoppers’ Critique International, the largest Florida-based consumer marketing/intelligence company, has announced the immediate appointment of Kevin Nixon as National Sales Manager. While Kevin will work with all industries, he will specifically focus a significant portion of his attention growing the company’s business in sports, entertainment & attractions, automotive, retail and casual/fine dining services.

Formerly VIP Account Manager at EDI Health Group, Kevin led a team responsible for sales and support for large group practices. Kevin also developed performance improvement plans designed to improve overall sales company-wide. Prior to joining EDI Kevin was with Kaiser Permanente and consistently delivered excellent customer service by responding quickly to client needs and resolving client concerns. Some of his other duties included analyzing various metrics and developing process improvement plans. Kevin has a wealth of knowledge and practical experience in both the sales and operations for both large and small companies including Wachovia Securities and National City Bank (now PNC).

“Kevin Nixon brings a wealth of credibility, experience and relationships in specific industries that we do business with, or are aggressively targeting and we look forward to him making an immediate impact leading our sales and customer relations efforts,” said Shoppers’ Critique Operations Manager Jake Dancy. “(Shoppers’ Critique CEO) Bill Green and I are both extremely excited to have Kevin join our team. His 10 plus years of sales and operations experience will strengthen our company’s growth and we look forward to his contributions.”

Nixon stated, “My focus has always been and always will be providing high quality customer service to each and every client. I am in the business of building and maintaining strong relationships to ensure a superior level of customer satisfaction for my clients and their customers. Shoppers’ Critique provides a great opportunity for me to utilize my passion to help others develop and maintain Customer Intelligence programs that help enhance their customer’s overall experience. I’m excited to join the team of experts already amassed at SCI and look forward to working with our diverse group of clients.

Having previously lived in Orlando, FL Kevin has recently returned to the City Beautiful. As a St. Louis, MO native and a graduate of Southern Illinois University with a degree in Business Administration and an M.B.A from Kaplan University in Project Management Kevin looks forward to leading the SCI sales efforts and being an active participant in the Central Florida community.

Important Shopper Registration Update

Shopper Registration UpdateUntil now, we have required every shopper to provide their social security number during registration since we are required to report shopper income on a 1099 form if they exceed $600. That information was encrypted and all proper security measures adhered to.

Still, it seems every month or so we hear about another major company with a security breach and millions of people’s personal information obtained. As a proactive measure, SCI has decided to change our process and what we store.

Social Security numbers are no longer required during the registration process. All shoppers that registered previously will have that information deleted from our system.

From this point forward, we will only collect that information when we are required to have it for federal or state reporting requirements. Shoppers will be advised when it is required. We will only retain it on our system for as long as we need it for reporting purposes.

Our shoppers are one of our greatest resources and we want to continue to make their experience with SCI the best it can possibly be. Thank you for the many years of partnership!

Mystery Shopping Services Review

We love helping our clients so when one of them reaches out to us with their praises we are always grateful. See what one of our loyal customers had to say about us:

I just wanted to reach out to you and recognize how outstanding and amazing your associate is. Pat is a valuable asset to the overall Toyota team and Mystery Shop program. In my last 6 months in the Digital Marketing team, Pat has assisted us with identifying holes in our program and coming up with ideas to improve. I enjoy working with her as well as Elizabeth. When I reach out to Pat for help, I know I can rely on her for quick responses. Her work ethic and overall positive attitude is a great contribution and extension to our Toyota Digital Marketing Team.

-Digital Dealer Experience Planner
Toyota Motor Sales, USA

Mystery Shopping Company Displays New Video

Marketing Outlook Forum

Shoppers’ Critique International is happy to announce that Paul Bell (National Sales Director) attended the 2014 Travel and Tourism Research Association’s Marketing Outlook Forum in Atlanta, GA. The aim of this forum was to get a global perspective on the industry by bringing together all manner of practitioners and researchers to look at the future of the industry.

As a leading network event for the travel and tourism industry, there were a number of high quality educational programs in addition to the great marketing forums. Many offices, airlines, hotels, and travel industry suppliers from the United States and Canada attended these events. “This was a very insightful event and I enjoyed the entire conference. The travel and tourism landscape is always changing and this was an opportunity for us at Shoppers’ Critique to gain insight from industry leaders.” said Bell.