What really sets your business apart from your competitors? If you’re just getting started in business or have noticed a recent change surge of new businesses like yours pop up, it’s probably time to think or rethink your competition strategy.
What is competition in business?
Competition in business is the existence of similar businesses or services to your own that are available in your target market. But it’s more than just a competitor in your territory. They represent a threat to your ability to create revenue by taking customers away from you and by successfully keeping their own existing customers. And this assault by competing businesses could greatly affect your livelihood. According to Entrepreneur, it’s a rivalry for customers or markets. These rivals are looking to make revenue and profits by offering your customers a replacement to your own products or services.
Why is it important to learn about your competitors?
Although this may seem to be a silly question to ask, think again. Many people would simply say that it’s important to know who you are competing against. But what may be key here is that knowing what your competitor offers can open up a whole new world of opportunities for your own business. You’ll need to embrace their concepts, at least until you understand their motivations and how they differ from your own business ideals.
Unfortunately, some businesses may tend to think they know it all when it comes to their products and services. But having this defensive and closed state of mind is just what your competitors would like to see from you. Having blinders on is dangerous to your growth and prosperity when there are ongoing changes and technologies that are moving us down a different path.
Put yourself in their customers place. Why is what they offer seemingly better to something you’ve offered for years? Who really wants or needs that service? How and why are their customers the same or even different from your own?
Who are your competitors?
They’re not just next-door rivals anymore. Gone are the days that you learn about your competitors because they hang out in the same neighborhood. In today’s global online economy, your competition may reside in any country of the world. And size no longer matters. A tiny business that operates out of a garage can lead a market that used to be dominated by a big corporation. Technology plays a big part in transforming businesses that can give larger companies a run for their money.
So, who are your competitors? To begin, you might consider doing a SWOT analysis of your own business. You need to be certain that you know what your own business is about. Do an audit. What are you selling? What services do you provide, etc. What are your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities? Do you know the threats that your business faces? If you are new at this or a seasoned business owner with concerns relating to changes in your industry, this analysis will help decipher where you stand among your competitors. Once you’ve nailed your current state of business, start researching other businesses that do the same, similar, and even substitutions for what you do. For example, a movie theater could be competition for a video arcade. Or, an online source of beauty products can be a threat to a local beauty salon who counts on revenue from product sales.
How can I research my competition?
Most of you might think you have a solid handle on your competition. But what you may not know is the unlikely rivals who are off your radar but who are encroaching on your territory or customers. It’s what you don’t know that can hurt you. So, even if you think you know who all your competitors are, do some research to be sure! Start by searching online with keywords that describe your business, products, and services. And while you’re online searching or on social media, pay attention to posts and ads that appear from competitors. What are they doing to grab your market share? How are they similar and how are they different? If you feel you’ve found some very credible threats, check reviews to see what their customers are saying. What are they doing well and what are they doing poorly?
But don’t forget about the traditional spying methods! Attend networking functions, trade shows, and conventions. Make phone calls to competitors as a potential customer. Listen to what your customers may be telling you. Ask why you haven’t seen or heard from them in a while. If your business is brick and mortar, and some of your competitors have a physical store, just walk in! How are they doing? Be a customer and find out how they are coping with online competitors?
What should I steal from my competition?
Ideas are a dime a dozen. Study details about what your rival offers. Take a cue from what makes even you think “wow” what a great idea! Then proceed to make that idea better if possible. Or simply incorporate that concept, as is, into your own offerings. Just be sure that it appears to be their best seller, would appeal to your audience, and is functionally feasible to your own operation. Also, check for trademarks to be sure the product or service is not protected by law. Bottom line, customers want to know what the added value will be if they choose to do business with you. Look at the added value your competitors offer and go one better. It could be the one reason they switched to you.
What can my competitors teach me?
For starters, they can show you what you’re doing wrong. They may explain why a certain product or service isn’t as popular as it used to be. Competitors can show you why a service doesn’t do well in a certain community. They can demonstrate why placing an ad in a certain publication may be a waste of time compared to other marketing efforts. You would have to read between the lines by observing what they are doing to succeed. But they can also teach you what you are doing right. Pay attention to what makes them special or unique. Read online reviews to give you heads up on what customers think are worthy of your competitor’s high ratings. Make comparisons against your own offerings. How do you stack up? Do you even offer that service, etc.?
What are the best ways to compete in business?
Go opportunity mining! Take some risks. Explore new ways to provide memorable experiences for your customers. Go past what you and your competitors are doing now to get ahead of the pack. You’ll need to step outside of your old ways of thinking. Start brainstorming and challenge employees to find new opportunities to increase revenue. Try a pilot or introductory program. Create new value that customers will appreciate. And above all, do it better than your competitors.
How should I measure my business against the competition?
Start by comparing apples to apples. Look at their number of employees, sales figures (if available) and product inventory or menu of services, etc. Find competitors that are as close as possible to your model. Look at what drives traffic to their websites. Explore their keywords and determine what sites attract your audience. How are they engaging customers in social media? Where are they placing ads? Who are they targeting? What are they doing to capture your customer base? And on the flip side, what are YOU doing to capture theirs?
What is healthy competition in business?
Competition is inherently healthy for customers. Having businesses fight for customer dollars helps to ensure quality products and services at reasonable prices. It’s what free enterprise is all about! But what about the businesses who are competing. Although annoying, having competitors is healthy for your business too. It inspires you to want to do better and to beat the competition. Products and services continue to improve. And healthy competition keeps businesses honest and transparent.
What makes your business different from the competition?
Being unique in business is important to set yourself apart as a leader in your industry. But can all businesses truly be unique? Maybe it’s more about what sets you apart from your competition. There are ways to help you stand out from the crowd and put you in a great position of maintaining customers and even employees. Concentrate on top-notch customer service. Be honest. Strive to improve and reinvent yourself to stay on top. Hire the right people. Provide quality that your customers can believe in. Improve your online presence. Think about your guarantees and what you are doing for the community. All these things give your customers a reason to do business with you. And although uniqueness may be something to strive for, it shouldn’t be the only thing.
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