Getting a business up and running is one thing, but keeping it profitable and growing it is another challenge entirely. One of the biggest challenges out there to your business is the competition waiting in the wings. Here, we’re going to look at nine ways you can ensure you’re always a step ahead of those competitors and always blazing your own trail.
Know your competition
Before you think about how you’re going to outpace, out maneuver, or outwit your competitors, you need to know who they are, first of all. You can do the research yourself or work with a competitive researcher to get the skinny on who you’re sharing the market with. How do they provide their products and services? How do they present their brand? How do they interface with their customers? What can you learn from your competitors without copying them? Once you’ve got a clear image of those that you’re going up against, you can start seriously strategizing.
Find your niche
If you’re in a competitive market, one of the best ways to stand out from them is to develop a unique selling point or to reach an audience that they’re not reaching. This audience might be a specific demographic of customers, or it might customers within a certain location or area. If you find your own niche, you’re not playing tug of war with competitors to see who gets to keep which customers, you’re building your own exclusive customer base.
Play the pricing game
You have to be careful with how you price your products and services. You want to make sure that your products and services are fairly and competitively priced. Going under what the competition is offering can help your business grow. However, go too low and you will find it hard to find the profit in your business. Furthermore, if your competition is much larger and much more established, they may have the freedom to go much lower and to take a loss on some services or products to maintain such broad control of the market.
Protect what’s yours
If your brand, your services, or your products are especially well received, then you need to do what you can to protect it. There will be newcomers to the market who will look to copy success in however they can. Making money from good ideas is a start, but you have to make sure that no-one’s simply copying those good ideas, as well. Patenting anything you can, protecting your intellectual property, and keeping an eye out for copycats is crucial. If you can’t protect what’s unique about your brand, you might that copyrights are harder to enforce in the future, too.
Make sure that your brand stands out
Looking, sounding, or feeling like the competition is going to hurt your business when you’re trying to carve out a space for yourself in the market. You’re no advertiser or web designer, which means that it might be wise to work with a digital marketing consultant who can help you sharpen up your image, but in a way that’s distinct to your business. Creating a brand that stands out and marketing in fresh and surprising ways can make your business much more memorable and much more easily recognisable.
Stay engaged with your community
What’s the most valuable thing that you have that your competitors don’t, beyond the quality of your services or products? It’s your audience. Your brand’s fans, users, and followers are going to have something of a personal connection, even if it’s purely based on commerce. But nurturing and respecting that connection, you can make it easier to hold onto them. A customer might have a harder time switching from one brand to the next if they some sort of emotional link to the first brand. Engaging your community through social media, rewarding their loyalty, and returning the favour once in a while can be essential to retaining them more easily.
Make sure your customers are treated well
Besides getting in touch with them and making sure their voices are heard, you should invest the time and money necessary in customer service to make sure they feel valued as well. This might mean something as simple as hiring a few more customer service reps, or making your company more accessible with an on-site chat platform. Of course, to make sure customers are treated well by your staff, you have to treat your staff well, too. You need to motivate them to engage with customers and to represent it to the best of their abilities.
Always look out for innovation
This is the step that’s easier said than done. Simply put, finding a way to disrupt the market or to offer something that your competitors haven’t even thought of, but is relevant to your market, is the best way to compete. There’s no way to force innovation, you simply have to be open to it and to foster it. Work with the brightest minds you can find, take the time to brainstorm ideas, and make a note of any that can have potential. As technology continues to develop and your funds grow, you never know which idea might suddenly become feasible and, even better, likely to succeed.
Respond to changes in the market
You might not always be the one to set the course for the future, but you can always make sure you’re responding to it as flexible as possible. If someone sets a new standard in the business, you must be sure to be close behind them. You should keep an eye on signs of markets growing and crashing, as well. Competitors that can’t change their business model in the event of a market crash are going to be left in the dust.
If you’re not able or willing to keep up with the competition and take what opportunities you can to outpace them, then your business is never going to truly excel. For as long as you’re running things, you should be prepared to keep up that pace.