How to build a list of your competitor’s customers


To gain market share, of course, you either need to bring new customers into the category, or get existing category customers to switch from your competitors.

Switching customers can oftentimes be faster and easier, as you don’t need to sell the customer on the need for the category in general – just that your product is better, faster, cheaper or more effective.

Getting your hands on that competitor’s customer list is another story.

But in today’s world of empowered consumers armed with a plethora of online social communication tools, seeking out your competitor’s customers may be easier than you think. True, getting the complete list may be next to impossible, but here are some tips for finding who’s using “the other guys”, and which of them might be ripe for a switch:

  • Set up a Twitter search for your competitor’s name and product/brand names. You’ll still need to sort through the press announcements and employee tweets to find the customers, but I guarantee they’re there. Some are actively complaining. That’s where to start.
  • Do similar searches in LinkedIn, specifically in the Groups and Answers sections. Same thing – figure out where customers and/or users in your category assemble, and find those who are talking about their experiences with your competitors.
  • Actively seek, search and participate in blogs and discussion groups that attract customers discussing issues (general or specific) related to your category.

Trolling and pulling prospects may be a quick way to use these channels to find “switcher” business, but each channel also represents a fantastic opportunity to engage the broader community of users & participants with your own brand, content and offers.

Simply starting a conversational presence in these places (to build credibility, not just to sell), is an easy and cost-effective way to directly target both an immediate and long-term stream of prospective new customers.

Do you have examples of successful switcher campaigns from the channels above, or other competitor list-finding best practices? What are you doing to actively find, engage and convince your category’s other customers to switch to you?