You may feel this post has a strange title? Business life would be easier without competition – or would it? However, let’s face it, competition is a fact of life for most businesses so dreaming of a competition-free existence is unrealistic. If we accept that there is competition, how can we use it to our advantage in our own business?
Let’s make the most of competitors.
Who is your competition?
If you are going to make the most of your competitors, you first need to know who they are. The key here is to focus. For the majority of businesses who may overlap a little with your own, the simplest thing is to forget them. You can waste a lot of time and effort concentrating on businesses that really don’t impact too much on yours.
Better to look at the companies who target closely the same marketplace as you. There are 3 main considerations:
- Product/Service – Which are the businesses that offer the same or similar products and services as you do? Her it is also worth considering those that offer alternatives. Different products/service that deliver the same value to the customer.
- Location – Concentrate on businesses that operate in the same region as you do. If you work locally, don’t spend too much time investigating the big nationals. Sure, it is worth keeping an eye on what they are up to – you may learn something – but better to focus on other businesses closer to your own,
- Customer Type – As I looked at in this article, some companies target bigger customers while others look for smaller customers. There can be good reasons for both, but where is your focus? Match this in your competition investigation.
Use your competition
You can’t control what your competitors do, but you can watch and learn. If you are working in eth same markets, by talking with your own customers, you will inevitably hear comments about your competitors. While it is interesting to learn how well (or not so well) they are performing, what you hear may also give you ideas as to things you can do to promote and develop your own business. Whatever you do, I do not recommend bad-mouthing competitors to your customers. Don’t forget it works the other way too and what goes around, comes around!
As a completely alternative, and for some, counter-intuitive approach, particularly in more localised markets, it can make a lot of sense to actively work with your competitors. Whatever the sales message, businesses have particular strengths in certain areas even though their offering may be much wider. You can find that your strengths fit neatly with an apparent competitor’s weaker areas and vice versa. Maybe you can refer work to one another.
You are unique
Whatever the competition, you are unique. Only your business has you and your team. Furthermore, only you have exactly your proposition. Use this uniqueness to differentiate your business. Don’t forget that if you are going to stand out from the crowd, it should be in ways that are relevant to your customer. If you say why you are different and your customer just says ‘So What?‘ You may need to have a rethink.
By knowing and understanding your competitors you will find it easier to spot your uniqueness – the things that make you stand out and why customers should come to you.
Customer fit wins the day
You meet some people and you immediately take to them. You meet others and you don’t feel the same. It is the same in business. However carefully you craft your marketing and communicate your selling points, some customers will ‘get’ what you are on about while others just won’t! So long as you get enough falling into the former group don’t worry about the latter.
You are never going to please everyone. Working to find the customers where you have a ‘fit’ is a great platform for success. Knowing your competitors helps in this process and hopefully, if they do the same, everyone wins including (most important) the customer!