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The top 10 ways to keep an eye on your competitors

The top 10 ways to keep an eye on your competitors

I don’t need to tell you just how competitive the fitness industry is – it is fierce. There seems to be a fitness business on every corner. And just when you think there couldn’t possibly be any more, another competitor opens their doors.

This makes it even more important to stay on top of what your competitors are doing, their prices, promotions and what they are offering. It is important as it will help you understand your competitive advantages and disadvantages relative to others in the market, it will give you a better understanding of competitors’ current and future plans and provide information to develop strategies that could give you a competitive advantage in the future

It may seem a bit daunting due to the number fitness businesses out there but don’t worry as this blog lists my top 10 ways to keep tabs on the competition (most ways you don’t have to even leave the comfort of your own home).

1. Check out their web site

This should be the first thing you look at – a web site can tell you a lot about a business. You can read about the business, what they are offering, trainers and experience, prices (sometimes), classes and so forth.

Now dig a little deeper:

  • Do they blog? If not that is a big advantage for you
  • Do they have testimonials? If not and you do, again this gives you a big advantage
  • What about the design? Is it modern and up to date? A bad web site may give you some clues about how the business is run
  • After looking at the web site, what image does it leave you with? Would you want to contact this business to find out more?


2. Review their social media profiles

Let’s move onto their Facebook, Instagram or their Snapchat profiles. In particular:

  • Do they post regularly – are they active on Facebook or has it been a month since their last post? If they don’t seem to pay much attention, then perhaps they don’t have the time or knowledge to invest in social media – this could be an opportunity for you
  • Is there a lot of engagement with their fans and followers? If they are just pushing out more salesy type posts, then here is your chance to show you care more about your fans and followers.
  • Do they use great images and are all their details filled in? If not, this may show lack of attention to detail and again this could give you an edge
  • Carefully read their reviews – are there many? What are the positives – this tells you what they are doing right. Look at any negative reviews as this tells you what they are doing wrong!


 3. Check out their Facebook Ads

This may be a bit hard to do as they may not advertise or they may not target their ads to you. But this is a great trick if your competitor’s ads pop up – Facebook allow you to give feedback with a little X mark in the upper right corner of each right column ad and through the V in the upper right corner of every Newsfeed ad. Users can tell Facebook to show them different ads, let Facebook know they found an ad useful, or pose the question “Why am I seeing this?” It’s this last option that gives you a clear path to spy on your competitors’ ads and what criteria they are using to target people.

Now check the ad and see what the feedback has been – are there many likes, questions, shares or comments? What do people think of the ad?

4. Subscribe to their newsletters

If you need to, create a fake email and subscribe to all their correspondence such as their newsletters. That way you will be the first to know what promotions they are running and what they are offering to their customers and leads (often which may not be offered on their web site or social media channels).

5. Become friends and fans on their social media

This is a must and doesn’t cost you anything – it keeps you up to date with details on any announcements and promotions they are running and again could give you some ideas for your own social media activities.

6. Google Search

Every now and then do a Google search for gyms or personal trainers in your area. Where are your competitors listed compared to you? If you are ranked higher, this gives you a huge advantage as this is the main way people find fitness businesses. If you are way behind, then you need to look at your SEO and find ways to get yourself higher in the rankings. Check to see if they are running any Google Ads too and what they are offering.

7. Reviews and recommendations

Make sure you check out what reviews people are leaving for your competitors. Ensure you have more positive reviews than your main competitors. Reviews are like free market research for you and are invaluable in helping you get an edge over the others.

8. Google Alerts

Google Alerts are a great way to keep tabs on your online business rivals and setting up alerts to go to your email inbox is as easy as pie.  You can use it to receive notifications each time your rival gets a mention. Login in to your Google account and navigate to the Alerts page. Try putting in search queries related to your competitor brands. A combination of brand names alongside services that you both sell could result in some interesting review, comment or content notifications on your adversaries.

You can also set up alerts as a means of monitoring your own brand. A few well-made Google alerts could help you keep tabs on what people are saying online about your business. This could make you much quicker in responding to feedback from clients  or critics compared to others.

9. Get a friend to spy for you

I love doing this – get someone you know who you can trust to go undercover and find out what your main competitors are up to. Get them to use a free trial to see how the gym is run, the condition of the place and how good their staff and services are.

10. Talk to your members and clients

It is very likely your members have trained at another gym or used a PT before you so make sure you find out as much as you can. Were they happy, what did they like about the experience, what didn’t they like, why did they decide to leave and so forth.

What about your own staff? It is possible they worked for one of your competitors too – again try and get as much detail as you can as they will often have extensive knowledge of the business behind the scenes.

And look at other free tools…

There are a vast number of simple tools on the market that let you keep an eye on your competitors without spending a lot of money – some are even free to help get your competitive monitoring program started (such as Social Mention, Topsy and Marketing Grader). There are some very effective tools out there which show how you compare to your main rivals.

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