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I’m a big fan of marketing your business so that you don’t have any competition (see my article about How to Beat the Competition) but we get asked this question a lot.  And honestly, if you don’t know what your competition is up to and how you measure up, your wedding business can be in trouble.

So what do you do to check out the competition…without coming off like a stalker?

5 Ways to Spy Your Competition

1)  Find out what they charge.

The most direct way to find out what your competition is charging is to call them up and ask.  If you’re friendly with the competition (something we greatly encourage) they’ll probably just tell you.

You can also set up a separate email and inquire about their pricing or even call them up as a customer if you’re gutsy.  Or you can pay a service to shop your competition for you.

NOTE:  While I fully support market research, I don’t support wasting other people’s time.  If you send an inquiry, make sure you respond back that you aren’t interested so they don’t follow up unnecessarily.  Remember: treat them the way you would like to be treated.

A less intrusive way to find out what your competitors are charging is to find out the average cost a bride is spending on your services in your market.  The Wedding Report is an invaluable resource for U.S. vendors.

Get statistics from Hitched.uk in the U.K. or from national vendor associations.

2)  “Grade” their website.

Hubspot’s Website Grader is Jeff’s favorite tool.  Simply plug in your competitor’s website along with your own, wait a few minutes and you’ll see a point by point comparison.

Website Grader is a quick, effective tool for analyzing your strengths and weaknesses against the competition, and it even gives you suggestions for improving your score.

3)  Read your competitor’s reviews and Google them.

Go online and Google your competition.  See what real brides are saying about them on Wedding Wire and in the Knot local chat rooms.  Hang out long enough and you might even find a chat room discussion comparing your services!

Of course, that takes TIME.  Just like you can set up a Google Alert to receive instant notification when someone mentions your name or business online, you can do the same for your competition.  Each time Google finds the competing business’ name online, you can set it up to send you an email or add it to your Google Alerts RSS feed.

4)  Scope them out at a bridal show.

Pretty much everything you’ll want to know about your competition’s services is showcased at a bridal show.  Just walk by beforehand and check it out.  Or ask a friend to gather information if you’d rather keep it on the down low.

5)  Survey your brides.

In our post-wedding survey, we ask our couples which other DJs they met with and why they decided to go with us.  While our brides are obviously biased in our favor, it gives us a quick comparison in the eyes of our clients.

We also ask our couples for the services they want that we don’t offer.  This can reveal the products and features your competition may have that you do not.

I love my competitors.  They force us to keep our skills sharp and our marketing sharper; they push us to grow.  Some of our closest competitors have been true friends and allies.

You don’t have to be afraid of the competition.  A little market research will reassure you that you’re on track or correct your course if you’ve gone astray.

What do you do to make sure you keep up with the competition?

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Stephanie Padovani

Stephanie is a Hudson Valley wedding insider, blogger, writer, and wedding business coach. Want to book more weddings at higher prices? Quit dealing with price shoppers? Transform your wedding business so that it supports the life you really want? Look her up! They don't call her the Wedding Business Cheerleader for nothing. :)

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10 thoughts on “How Can I Find Out How I Compare to My Competition?”

  1. dave says:

    Checking out what other businesses charge is one of the stupidest ideas I have ever heard. It doesn’t matter one bit what they charge because your pricing should be based on your own costs. You have no idea if the person you are checking out is making money, losing money, or being supported by a rich spouse, or family trust fund.

    You have to base your prices solely on what your cost of business is and if you are in an area that cannot support those prices you have two choices. Find a way to lower your costs so that you can lower your prices. Or move to an area that can support those prices.

  2. Alena says:

    After reading this article, I thought I would use the Hubspot’s Website GraderGreat item except I started receiving emails from them and received a call from one of the reps trying to sell me SEO/Inbound marketing. Since I dont like to be rude I heard the person out and to hear this service is $4000+ is the most crazy thing I heard. I wouldn’t have known about this service unless it was for your article, which is great but to be solisitated and the scare tactics that were used was a bit much.Maybe put a stipulation on your article you maybe contacted by the company to sell you stuff if you use this service. Very disappointing :o(

  3. Anonymous says:

    Making fake inquiries to your competition is just wrong. If you get caught, you will have a bad wrap pushed on you around your city. Exactly what you do not want in this small world.

    I had someone send me an email and cc’d 30 other photographers. The email was weird so I replied all and asked if this was real or if they just had some questions about photography in general. It ended up the girl replied back from her business account and did not realize it, posing as a bride and 30 of us instantly realized what she was trying to do. Then she got nasty. So now she has the image of a sneak in our city and no vendors will recommend her.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I found this post very helpful (purposefully not entering the fake enquire your competitors debate). Especially the website grader and google alerts. I found our site was graded most favourably especially compared to our local competitors. It has made my day! But also some very helpful suggestions that I will be implementing.

    Thanks again.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the response. Hmm, we’ll have to agree to disagree. Your other tips were great, I just do not condone this one.

    Spending time on the phone with someone who is lying to me and pretending to be a prospective client while grilling me with questions, is not part of business (in my opinion) it’s a waste of my time and insulting to my intelligence.

    Knowing what your average competitor IS important to your business. But here’s the real crux. MOST people don’t have the guts to pull up their big girl panties or show courage and ask directly. It’s easier to be sneaky. I’ve had my competitors ask me directly and I have asked them, what’s your hourly? It’s no big deal.

    JUST ASK! Because you aren’t stealing their pricing information, you’re taking away potential sales pitches and collateral and that is going too far.

    Because we know, that booking more brides is not just about price ….

  6. Anonymous says:

    I found this blog post off of twitter.

    I have to say, I completely disagree with pretending to be a prospective client. It’s not following your suggestion of “treating others like you would want to be treated”.

    I don’t care if my competition knows my general pricing (I’m a wedding planner with her own business for 8 yrs), but don’t you DARE contact me and listen to my sales pitch or my unique selling proposition. It’s called shopping the competition. I’ve had it done to me before and nothing will turn me off faster.

    If you are new to the wedding industry, trust me, being up front with your local vendors is ALWAYS better. If they won’t give you info (some won’t) at least they will respect you. Move on, do your own thing and be successful. They’ll come around. And you never know when you may need help or they are overbooked and need to refer someone. If you are blacklisted because you price shopped them, then you’ve missed an opportunity.

    Our philosophy is to try very hard not to worry about what the competition is doing. We strive to be unique in our area so everyone else is following us and googling our business name.

    1. [quote name=”saundra hadley”]
      I have to say, I completely disagree with pretending to be a prospective client. It’s not following your suggestion of “treating others like you would want to be treated”.[/quote]

      Saundra, I have not shopped our local wedding competition because I am not comfortable with it. So I’m inclined to agree with you…in part.

      However, I [i]have[/i] been shopped by a competitor who also happens to be a friend. He let it slip that he sends out fake bride inquiries with particular names to shop the competition, and I put two and two together.

      I wasn’t upset with him. While it’s vitally important to build and protect relationships with other wedding vendors, we’re also running a business, and part of that is knowing what’s going on in our local market, including with the competition.

      I suspected some people might not like that suggestion because no one enjoys being shopped. But it can be an important aspect of knowing the competition and the more “competition obsessed” vendors are going to do it anyway :-) which is why I included it along with urging not to waste their time.

      It’s much more effective to focus on what [i]you[/i] can do to stand out rather than focusing on what the competition is doing. That’s my personal philosophy. But not checking out the competition isn’t good for your business, either, so a balance needs to be struck.

      When I worked in sales we got shopped all the time; sometimes we knew it and sometimes we didn’t. I didn’t hold it against them because we were doing the same thing.

      [b]Competitive analysis is a part of doing business. [/b]

      It’s up to each individual to decide how to do that market research. If you’re not comfortable shopping the competition as a prospect, don’t do it.

      I don’t endorse wasting someone’s time. A few minutes on the phone or a quick email with a, “No, thank you,” follow up is, in my opinion, part of running a smart business…and so is dealing with being shopped.

      Maybe I have a more tolerant attitude than most, but I fully expect my savvy competitors to shop me.

      Thanks for reading and for taking the time to share your opinion!

  7. I dont’ worry about what others charge. I focus on delivering a better service than what others provide and ask a rate I feel I can live with.

    When I get shopped, I simply say please call me, because every client has a different need and one price does not fit all.

    Good day,

    Robert

  8. Anonymous says:

    We do a LOT of research on not only competition but other similar companies in other markets on the internet. There is a TON of info to be found online to help with products and pricing your service. It really helps to get friendly with your competitors in the market as well. We have actually been referring to one or two other companies locally and they refer to us as well

  9. Anonymous says:

    Our biggest way of keeping up with the competition is through unique exposure. We actively target our market using unique methods, (like a fund-raising opportunity seen on this post: http://www.generationxalbums.com/blog/?p=81) that other businesses do not do. We also look for markets that other businesses don’t look for, such as other businesses. (Which of course, was talked about in a previous post on your site.)

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