Competition is an integral part of the business world. Without it, growth and development becomes virtually impossible. Necessity indeed, is the mother of all inventions. Majority of the research projects embarked on started out as a search for the solution to a problem; a problem associated with the status quo – with what can be obtained presently.
Competition drives innovation. You do not have to see competition as a bad thing. It is good for you and your business. Competition becomes bad (for you) when you are not even on the “playing field”. You will be crushed.
The goal is to constantly be ahead of the competition; that means you are constantly on your feet, eyes wide open, ears on the ground, and hands ready to work. The 21st Century world is a fast-paced one, and it will keep going that way.
I understand that your business is a small or a growing one, but that has vast advantages too. You’re adaptable, and you’ve got more weapons to fight with. You can compete based on price, or value added service, and customer service.
So what if the big brands make it difficult for you to compete using price by bringing their price to a level where they have little or no profit for some time, just to crush you. But that’s when adding extra value and excellent customer service comes into play. Big companies can rarely ever beat you in customer relations if you know what you are doing.
That’s one tip right there.
Business is a game and you as a business owner have to stay ahead at all times to be recognized. Let me get this mindset into you: There is enough market for everyone, and it is NOT illegal to “steal” customers through superior products or marketing strategies.
If you want to stay ahead of your competition, do these things:
- Know Your Competition
In war or business the key to success is to know your competition and understand the obstacles you need to overcome. Do you know who your biggest competitor is? Do you know who or what is stealing your prospects’ attention and keeping them from buying your products or services?
Spy on your competitors, get to know why they have the clients they have (no matter how big or small). In war it is called “gathering Intelligence”. Really there is nothing as important as intelligence. It is the bedrock for your very next steps.
No great thing has ever been achieved without gathering intelligence (research) – beating your competition is no different.
- Know Your Customers and What They Want
You have to know what kind of people are likely to patronize your product/service and what they are presently using (your competitor). You have to find out why they are not using your solution and why they are using the product/service they are currently using. It may be because of poor marketing, lack of trust, price, e.t.c. Just find out and take appropriate steps.
“The customer is always right” to me means “They’ve got the bucks, keep them with you”.
If you have not yet launched, this information will help you know where and to whom to pander.
Let me add here that for you retain the customers you have, you don’t just sell to a customer and forget about them… that’s unhealthy for your brand. Create a customer base and connect with them from time to time. Use basic CRM software as your customer base grows.
- Craft a Competitive Advantage
There are PREMIUM brands and there are regular brands. See how it works; you sell cookies at $1 dollar per unit and you make about 30,000 sales per week. That’s $30,000 per week. Now, I sell the same cookies too, but I package 10 units of the cookies in a box and sell in a 5-star hotel for $100 dollars per box. I sell 500 to 700 boxes per week. That gives me $50,000 to $70,000.
While you are selling to the average person, I am selling to the elites, but we are both making money! I have a competitive advantage, though our customers are cookie lovers.
The above example works well if you have already gathered sufficient intelligence and “known your customer”. For instance, going to that 5-star hotel and offering to sell 10 units for your usual $10 or even packaging it in a box and selling for $15, may see the prospects there wary of you.
Like I said above, price is not the only thing to compete with, there are other ways. That’s how the concept of home delivery and errand services came about.
- Communicate With/To Your (Potential) Customers
Talking ‘to’ your customers is what is known as advertising and talking “with” your customers is what is known as market research.If you are not talking with and to your customers, someone else is. This is a very vital element in your response to competition.
You want to know how they think, where they are, what they want, and how you can meet their needs. At every opportunity you get, do not sell your products, sell the solution you provide.
I always like to give a final tip. So what else do you have to do apart from ensuring quality product and service?
Exceed Consumer Expectations, after you have known what they want, exceed it and you will keep them for a long time.