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The Competitive Binder

The competitive binder is one of the best tools you can use to keep up to date on every move your competitor makes. Watch Ken Burke explain more.
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One of my favourite tools is the competitive binder. And I’ve been using a competitive binder for years. Every time I conceptualise a business, I want to start a business, or I actually start a business, I go and I start building a competitive binder right away because what it does is it gives me a way to assemble lots of competitive information in one place. So let’s take a look at our competitive binder. And this is a real competitive binder that I put together. And what I like to do is I like to put different things in the competitive binder as I’m gathering things.
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So for instance, packaging information, photos that I might have taken, then also taking screenshots from their website, and being able to look down and deep into the different products. In fact, I organise my competitive binder by individual companies. So I take an individual company, and I take a look at their social media. I might take a look at their home page, their product pages, and other things to glean lots of information. Now, one of the nice things is a competitive binder is a living, breathing organism. So you’re going to continue to add information to this throughout your entire business. And you’re going to reference back to this binder. So it’s very, very helpful.
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A couple things that you can do, in fact, if you don’t want to actually print out a competitive binder as I’ve done here, you can go digital. And so there’s some tools out there that will allow you basically to do the same thing I’m doing here, but you can do it in digital format. One tool that I recommend is Evernote’s Web Clipper. And it makes it really easy as you’re cruising through the websites to actually just click a button and you grab the page. And then you can store it off digitally and refer back to it. So it’s kind of a nice tool. We’ll have that tool and a link to that tool on our website as well.
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What I recommend as you’re putting together your competitive binder, you start with picking maybe 5 to 10 competitors. Get them on the list, the most important competitors that you want, and then we can start to dive in and take a look. Now, when I’m working with my competitive binder, I like to look for certain things. So one of things I look for is positioning strategy. What’s the positioning strategy based on what’s going on on the website? I can kind of start to tell what the positioning strategy. What’s their target market? Who is their ideal customer? Who are they going after? Are they high end? Are they low end? Are they high priced or low priced?
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What does their social media strategy look like? Do they have any social media strategy? We want to look at all that information in addition to their product. I want to see how many products they have. How do they describe their products? How do they show ingredients, in this particular case? What locations do they have is another thing that I look for. And I might look for other things like About Us sections. And I start to glean from all of this their strengths and weaknesses as well. I can pick out, wow, this seems to be really strong for them. They really have a great product, a great packaging. Or I might say their packaging is really weak.
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It doesn’t resonate with me at all. And so I’m going to log all of that information into our competitive grid, which we’re going to go through in just a little bit. So now this gives you an idea as you put together this binder of really how to work with your competitors overall. Once you do this, you’re going to love this. So one of the things that I want you to take a look at as you’re analysing your competitors and really putting together all your competitive information, the first thing I suggest is visit the business. So go into the business. Actually go and buy something, which is always a good thing to do. Talk to the employees there. Talk to customers.
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Hopefully you won’t get in trouble or get thrown out. Take pictures. Anytime that I walk by a store– when I was researching my chocolate business, for example, I would take pictures of every chocolate window around the world. Anytime I saw a window that were selling chocolate, I’d take a picture of it. Talk to customers. See how they like the experience, as I mentioned earlier. Also, observe how they sell. See how they interact with you as well. And I also recommend that you return something. So that’s always important to see how they handle that return process. What level of customer service are they really offering you as well?
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And in addition to returning something in the physical store or a physical experience, you also want to do it online as well, which is really important. The next thing I recommend is actually calling the business, calling a business and seeing, well, how fast they pick up the phone. How long do you stay on hold, perhaps? And then when they answer the phone, are they friendly? Are they not friendly? What’s their attitude? Now, I always like to look at how well they’re trained. How knowledgeable are they? Ask them some trick questions or some in-depth questions and see if they actually know the answer. And that will tell you how much money they’re really investing in training and investing in their employees.
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It also might tell you even how long their employees have been there, if they’re really experienced, which is always a good thing to know. And look at how they’re selling. How aggressive are they selling? If they’re on the phone and they’re wanting to sell you something, are they really aggressive? Or are they kind of laid back and they’re just kind of answering and they’re just all about helping you and giving you great information? The last thing I think you should do is go to a trade show. This is a great way to get all your competitors in one room and start checking them out. Go to their trade show booth. See how much space they take, even write that down.
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Do they take a 10’ by 10’ or a 20’ by 20’? How much do they spend on graphics? Do they have a really elaborate booth, or is it really kind of a scaled down and junky booth? And then how do they interact with you inside the booth? Were they really friendly and open? Or did they try to sell you really aggressively at the trade show? So look at how all of that happens, how they position their products, all of that. By pulling all this information together, you’re really gauging how you’re going to really analyse and keep up with your competitors over time, very important. [LOGO SOUNDS]

The competitive binder is one of the best tools you can use to keep up to date on every move your competitor makes. We will walk you through a sample competitive binder.

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Crushing your Competition: Competitive Strategies to Make your Business Stand Out

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