In some ways, talking to your customers is the best and easiest way to get information about your competitors. Who better to talk with than a customer who has maybe tried several different products and has an idea of what works and what doesn’t work? Your best customer might be a former customer of your competitor. Also, in most cases, your customers have probably already done some research on companies out there that can help them and may have come across your competitors in the process.
You can tap into your customers’ perspective of their awareness of the marketplace relative to competition. Survey your customers through a variety of marketing efforts. Many companies are using e-newsletters and online marketing campaigns to survey customers on an ongoing basis. Your use of online mini-surveys is your opportunity to find out what makes your product or service special or what other products or services your customers use and like. Surveys are a great way to reach out, get some good quick information!
(Excerpt from Chapter 13, Market This!: An Effective 90-Day Marketing Tool)