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How to Stay Ahead of the Competition

In a business world, competition is one thing that cannot be overlooked. There is a high possibility that your business is not the monopoly in the market as there are many other businesses that have the same product as you or they offer similar services as yours. Staying ahead of the competition might require more than just business skills. Here are some of the tips that can help you survive in a competitive business environment.

1. Analyze the Competition but Don’t Obsess Over Them

The first thing that you should do is to study and analyze the competition environment. The competitor may be an individual or a large company but that shouldn’t matter to you.  The knowledge gained at this stage will be help you determine other steps in relation to the competition. Knowing your competitor is important. As an entrepreneur, you will face off with different types of competitors so it’s crucial that you are agile enough to make a move in a different direction if needed.

Don’t feel intimidated but instead be ready to tackle them head on. Find out what they are providing and also look at the unique tactics that they use to sell their products. Also find out about their relations and reputation to the customers and the external community. This will help you to lay out the best strategies that you will employ to emerge the best.

2. Understand Your Targets Better (The Blockbuster Mistake)

Conduct detailed research about your target customers and analyze their needs and expectations. Study the customers’ behavior in relation to a particular product and in different economic situations. This is because there is a tendency that the customers’ needs are bound to change depending on the economic condition. Find out the features about a product that would impress customers most. To do this you might put yourself into the customer’s shoes and be the customer of your product. By doing this, you will be able to understand primary needs of your customers.

The first place to start is with demographics.  Here is a list of demographic categories

1. Age

2.Gender

3. Location

4. Occupation

5. Marital Status

6. Number of children

7. Income

You should focus on 2 of the 6 demographics that your product or service will appeal to the most.  Once you decide who your target market is, you should begin to get in front of them.  Narrow your marketing efforts to your target market online and offline.

Next, you have to understand you target market much better than your competition does.  When Netflix was on the rise, Blockbuster Video was not intimidated by the up and coming online video rental store.  Blockbuster believed that they understood their target market better than Netflix did.  Based on Blockbuster’s research, their customers would never switch to an online video store because they valued walking into a store and hand picking videos.

Their research also concluded that customers enjoyed walking to the video store because they might run into someone they know. Sounds crazy now, but at the time Blockbuster made most of their business decisions on their understanding (or lack thereof) of their customers.

It was an out of touch approach by Blockbuster which eventually led to their demise.  Your business should not assume that it understands client’s needs fully.  Instead, you should constantly seek to gain more understand and offer solutions for your clients problems.

 

Blockbuster1

3. Be unique

Try to add an aspect to your product that will make it different from what others are providing. Look at what is being provided by the competitors then compare with yours. After drawing a list of similarities, look for a thing or two that can set you apart from the rest of the businesses. The feature my include offering an extra personal service or even pricing your products fairly.

4. Build a Better Business Brand

To survive in today’s cutthroat competition, you need to develop a brand of your business in which customers will be able to relate with easily. You can achieve this with the help of the latest technological tools available. To enhance your brand to the online customers build an attractive website which customers will enjoy visiting.

You can also enhance your physical image by taking care of the appearance of your business premises. Paint your premises with particular colors and add a logo that is synonymous with your product so that whenever people see an image related to your business logo, they will be able to identify it with you. You can also enhance the appearance of other items such as business cards and branded clothing so that they reflect your image. Another way of building your brand is by participating in community activities such as cleaning the environment. People will be able to associate your business with positive features.

5. Pivot Quickly

Resisting change is futile.  Initiating change, however, is how a business can gain the upper hand.  One of the most common misconceptions about larger companies is that they are on the cutting edge of innovation.  The truth is that large companies do not innovate; startups do.  Large companies acquire smaller companies because of their innovative ideas.  Take the example of Linkedin’s acquisition of Connectifier in 2016.  This is an example of a larger company taking advantage of the innovative ideas of a smaller company instead of coming up with those ideas themselves.

The reason why this happens because larger public companies tend to have more at stake than smaller startups.  They also have more people to answer to including board of director member and shareholders.  Making a risky move may upset and scare too many people so larger companies tend to move slower when it comes to change.

If your business is up against larger competitors, you have an unique advantage.  You are able to be more nibble and innovative when changes to the industry are coming.  You have the ability to

6. Look for New Markets

As your competitors are concentrating on the current market, spread your wings and seek for the new target groups. Be on the lookout for the other categories of potential users who were not using your product and introduce them to it. By the time your competitors reach to them, you would have already made the new customers addicted to your product.

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