Here, if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw. There it is, that’s a straw, you see? You watching?. And my straw reaches acroooooooss the room, and starts to drink your milkshake… I… drink… your… milkshake! – There Will Be Blood.
Daniel Plainview was brilliantly acted character played by Daniel Day Lewis and this scene won him the Oscar. It does say something about competition and going after your competitors’ resources. Your competitor’s most valuable resource is their customers. So how do you “Drink Their Milkshake”?. These strategies are really suited to a David and Goliath approach
Here are some top tips:
1. LinkedIn – LinkedIn is a powerful tool for understanding competitive information. There are a number of different ways to effectively poach your competitors clients.
a. See what their sales force is doing – Watch what the sales reps from your competitors are doing, and see who they are connecting with. It is likely that those people are either their leads or customers. Target those people and begin discussions of your own.
b. Infiltrate their LinkedIn groups – Most of the people who manage LinkedIn groups quite honestly don’t pay attention to who they let in. Some of the people there are likely either users or power users. You have to be discriminating to who you begin to contact, as usually these groups are teeming with consultants and members of that company. It can be a quick way to generate a really quick list.
2. Twitter – It is very simple to go after your competitor’s customers in Twitter. The rule is simple: if they are following your competitor, it is likely they are customers. So the next step is easy – you follow them 500-1000 at a time. You wait a week and see who follows you back. By virtue of them following you back, they have self-identified that they might be interested in trying a different service. At the very least, you see what topics are resonating and can derive new messaging from that.
3. Facebook – Fans and people who actively post on their wall are obvious targets. Depending on the product or service you can begin to run ads for anyone who “likes” your competitor. This is a hyper targeted approach to catch the eye of these potential clients.
4. Event Sign-ups – Many companies are using 3rd party sign-up tools for their events or webinars. Search and scrape any sign-up sheet to see the names of people signing for your competitors events. You can effectively use their own marketing and lack of security to tell you who you should be targeting.
5. Competitors’ websites – Look at the client roster on the websites. Look for case studies, client names etc. Now I will warn you this is a tougher slog due to the fact that people are the most devoted advocates of their brand. That said, if you can steal a few of them it could be a huge coup. Depending on the website, you might want to use a website downloader. Why a website downloader you ask? It is simple – a lot of companies don’t effectively manage their content and information. There can be a lot of hidden information that those companies don’t want you to see. It could be the result of lazy web development or otherwise. Sometimes people leave some very sensitive information within public view.
These are a few of many powerful tools to help “Drink Your Competitors’ Milkshake”. Conversely, make sure you are careful in how you manage your customer data and don’t make it easy for them to target your customers. I will close by saying that none of these strategies work unless you are willing to invest time and hustle. You can’t win over your competitors’ customers just merely by sipping them up with a straw.
October 31, 2011
* LinkedIn can be very effective in certain industries, but outside of specific spheres I think that its influence and effectiveness is limited because most people only go on Linkedin when they need a new job. Employed people are careful about what connections and information they expose. Thats how I see it. In certain cases it can be effective.
* I think that Facebook and Twitter can be very effective for finding new leads, but again, it depends on the industry as not everybody is on there. I think that a lot of companies are increasingly looking at social media promotion because of the belief that they can use various tools to find relevant leads and there’s a lot of companies listed at http://www.buyfacebookfansreviews.com that do a lot of this kind of work. Certainly companies are going to increasingly focus in on this, depending on what kind of industry they are involved in.
* I think that events can definitely be big for finding new leads, especially if you have the right personality type to take advantage of that. A lot of people in tech don’t have the personality type to make effective use of networking events though so if that is your strength, this is where you can kill.
* I’m hesitant about using automated website downloading tools to get information because that can lead to trouble, but regardless of how you do it, researching your competitors and finding new connections and valuable inside info can be done online. There’s a wealth of knowledge out there if you put the pieces together.
November 1, 2011
Totally right. Only in industries where Linkedin is used is this valuable. However where I find Linkedin very valuable is going after competitors second most valuable asset: their sales people. Sales people should be on Linkedin and it’s a good way of finding out who your competitors have on their payroll so you can hire them.