On top of everything else that you do to keep your business running smoothly you need to do a lot of reading. Who is changing jobs? What new products and services are your competitors offering? Which of your competitors are expanding into new markets, which are shutting down facilities? There is a lot to keep up with!
You do know who all of your competitors are, don’t you? And whether or not they are blogging? Even if their “blog” is just press releases you should be paying attention to what they are saying and doing (see the Action Items at the end of this post).
The information being published by individual businesses in your field is just as important as what you learn from trade publications, magazines and journals.
Two Tools for Keeping Up with Jones’ Widgets
RSS Readers and E-mail filters are the digital versions of the magazines that you subscribe to. Just like physical magazines it is important to keep up with them and not let them pile up, getting “dusty”. It can be intimidating to see a large number of unread messages, just like it is with a pile of trade publications going back six months. Old information isn’t going to help you get ahead of the competition.
Google has a really good feed reader, Google Reader, that looks and “feels” just like an email program. You can get started by using your normal Google Account sign-in.
When you go to a website that you would like to add, just click on the RSS Feed icon
and select your Google Reader to access new posts.
If you are not comfortable working with a new application, most websites allow you to subscribe to new posts via e-mail. If you prefer this method then I recommend that you create a folder in your e-mail client that you can filter your subscriptions into.
Your email folder tree should look something like this:
- Social Media
Once you have set this up you are in business and should be able to process your Inbox in a short time each day.
- Get out your planner and set aside an hour next week to set up a feed reader for all of your competitor’s blogs. If any of them are not blogging, that is useful information as well. Make a list of those that are not and create a recurring task to check their websites monthly to see if they start blogging.
- Set regular times each week (Monday and Thursday are good to start) to check your feed reader and get up to date on what they are publishing. Watch for trends.
- Create a weekly digest to share these updates with your team, or assign appropriate people to create feed reader programs of their own. You may want to consider making a “Comp Set Review” part of your regular staff meetings, especially for Marketing and Product Development.
- Use what you have learned to influence and develop your own Editorial Calendar.
Questions and Suggestions are welcome in the Comments.