Every day, new businesses launch, and others close. Even if you don’t have a ton of competition, that could change at any moment. It’s vital to know who your challengers are, what they do well and what you do better. Outsmarting your them requires more than knowing who they are, though. You have to understand their business model and how it compares to your own.
Currently, 30.7 million small businesses exist in the United States. Luckily, outsmarting your competitors is easier than you might think.
1. Know Who You Are
Before you worry about your competition, figure out who you are as a brand and what you stand for. The better you know your mission, the more quickly you can communicate it to your customers. Every decision you make should keep that underlying purpose in mind.
Understanding your history and where you want to go allows you to brand your name more efficiently. Your competition may not yet fully understand their purpose, so knowing yours puts you ahead.
2. Create a Competitor Map
A competitor map shows what areas your competition covers and saturation points. It also gives you vital information about under-served spots you might want to target. If a neighborhood has fully embraced a business, it’s unlikely you’ll unseat them. Instead, to grow your business, seek out places they have failed to pay attention to.
By building a map, you can also learn about a competitor’s target markets, gaining info on delivery times, shipping costs and how close they are to your top customers.
3. Stop Trying to Do It All
You don’t have to be everything to everyone. Think about what you excel in and offer that as your number one product or service. It might be tempting to delve into other areas, but your business may not be ready to expand in that way. Until you’ve reached all the customers you can in the area you perform best, don’t add a bunch of additional products or services on top.
One example is telecommunication companies that offer bundled phone, internet and television services. Read online reviews for any of these companies and you’ll find tons of negative comments. On the other hand, smaller companies are offering internet-only services that have top-notch feedback.
You can expand into other areas, but don’t do so merely because a competitor does. Do your research and be smart about your growth, and you won’t run into cash flow and customer complaint issues.
4. Enlist Your Customers’ Help
You likely have a number of customers who adore your brand. Enlist their help and ask them to refer you to others. Many people may not think to do this on their own. If you ask for a testimonial, however, they’re typically happy to share how much they love your company.
Some businesses implement a reward program for referrals. If they bring in a new customer who spends money, you can send them a gift or give them an exclusive discount.
5. Add Customization
In 2020, the name of the game is customization. Creating products that allow for adjustments is a smart strategy that other businesses in your industry may not have embraced yet. People are coming to expect a more personalized experience with what they buy.
Customization comes with a lot of benefits, including charging more for products and increased customer satisfaction. If you aren’t personalizing what you sell, consider how you can make each item unique to the owner without overwhelming your business model.
6. Study the Competition
Pay attention to promotional strategies used by other brands in your industry. Sit back and track how long an offer lasts and what the results seem to be. For example, if the company suddenly offers a big discount to sign up, how long does the promotion last? If it’s limited, they may be trying to reach new prospects. If it’s ongoing, they may be struggling to bring in new business.
Analyze the rates they charge. Are you competitive? If you charge more, you shouldn’t automatically lower your price. Instead, you must be able to articulate the advantages to potential clients.
Watch the media for any complaints against other organizations. Online reviews can also help you see what customers are unhappy about. Strive not to repeat their mistakes in your own work.
Do You Want to Outsmart Your Competitors? Seek Smart Counsel
You can’t know everything, so find a mentor who’s found success in business and able to offer guidance. Ask questions about what worked for them and what didn’t. Placing all of your attention on the competition is a waste of time and resources. You must also seek first to make your brand the best it can be. Then, tweak it according to what other industry professionals are doing.
Lexie Lu is a UX content strategist and web designer. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, watching HGTV and walking her Goldendoodle. Feel free to check out her design blog or follow her on Twitter.