The bells are ringing, and there is Christmas cheer in the air. The trees are up and beautifully decorated with care. While the weather is frigidly cold, this season will never get old. Oh, what a wonderful time to start a business!

But wait, you’ve got some work to do before the Christmas rush. You’re worried about your competitors and what they might be offering this year. You have no idea how to price your products to remain competitive, and what about the seasonal promotions? How can you hope to plan anything blindly? Well take heart my friend, I’m here to give you some ideas on how to gather this critical information. I have to warn you though, gathering this information may put you on one of two lists this season, so will you be Naughty or Nice?  

Naughty Level: Low

Want to find out information about your competitors but still want to avoid that lump of coal in your stocking? All you have to do is ask. No seriously, call your competitors up and ask them how much things cost. You don’t even have to lie. Why would they assume that someone calling, asking for pricing, is an aspiring competitor? While you are on the phone, ask them about other things. Do they provide mobile services? Do they cover a certain area? Do they have free parking? Anyone on the line should be happy to answer most questions, and you can still sleep soundly with Christmas carols lulling you to sleep. Yeah, the elves will look at you with their shifty eyes, but they’ve always been a bit judgy anyway.

Naughty Level: Medium

Want to know what to offer and how much to charge? Talk to potential customers. Find out exactly what product or service they want then customize it to their needs. Don’t know what to charge? It is very much industry standard in sales to walk into someone’s office and ask, “What price do I have to be at to get your business?” A lot of purchasers, though not all, will be happy to tell you what price they are looking to beat. This is totally okay though, right? Sure, the neighbours will skip your house when they sing Christmas carols and you might get visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, but it’s worth it. The information you’ve gathered is the perfect present.

Naughty Level: High!

Contact your competitors and pretend to be a customer. Invite them over for a quote, express interest in their industry, or figure out what their sales approach is. Go ahead, waste their time. Isn’t this so fun? Better yet, go work for them for a while and conspire to steal their customers. Too busy? Poach one of their staff. After this one, Santa will be giving you coal… on the top of your stairs, so watch your step when you wake up on December 25. I wouldn’t consume any of the leftover milk or cookies either. Who knows what was done to them. *Manager’s Note: Business Link does not encourage or condone these practices and would recommend keeping your naughty levels low if you want to enjoy a happy holiday season!

Naughty Level: Nice!

Does it smell like reindeer poop in here? Let’s open a window and air this place out. If your heart beat is racing and you are starting to question self-employment, fear not. I do have another path for you. What if there was a way that you could be completely honest, get all the information you need, and maybe even make a friend? Doesn’t that sound nice? Instead of calling your competitors, how about you call someone who isn’t?

Open up your web browser and search for a company in your industry doing the exact same thing you want to do, but in a completely different province or city or state. Make sure you are going out far enough so that they aren’t a competitor of yours and won’t see you as one, and then be honest. Let them know where you are, that you are new, and that you would like their help. Then be prepared for something unexpected: people will probably want to help you. People can be positively filled with the spirit of Christmas. You should be able to find fairly accurate and relevant information for your industry. Try to stick to similar sized cities or towns as yours. As a bonus, ask them what works for their business or what has been working for their competitors, THEN STEAL IT… Ha Ha! Well played you old Grinch! Scrooge has nothing on you.

When you consider your path, we hope you do the math. Taking the path of naughty would leave a sour tone, so send us an email or pick up the phone. Market research we have, to save you time. It’s totally free, and won’t cost you a dime! If you need some great advice, you can’t beat the price. With that, we’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Business Link.