The world of business is growing more competitive all the time. With the continuous growth of online shopping, there is now even more opportunity for anyone to start an online business that could be a direct competitor to you, all they need is a laptop and an internet connection. It means for your company that, with profit margins so tight, any advantage you can make over your rivals can be just the boost your company needs. However, how can you gain an advantage over your competitors?
Find Out Where You Stand :
Before you can discover how to gain the edge over your rivals, you need to see where you both are by comparison. It might be that you already have the advantage over your rivals and you don’t need to do anything else. Research if you haven’t already and see what they offer their customers compared to you. These types of measurements will give you an idea of the gap you have to bridge, and also help you to think of the areas you need to improve.
Learn What a Competitive Advantage Means :
Another part of gaining an advantage over your rivals is to understand what that means. There are many ways that you can gain an advantage. Some ways involving sales or the number of customers you serve; others can be behind the scenes such as your turnover or the quality of your staff. You could offer an alternative to your competitors such as making your products cheaper or maybe offering higher quality than your rivals. You might be able to give your customers a better service or maybe offer better deals than other companies. All of these will make customers want to choose you over your rivals.
Understand Your Customers :
What do your customers want from you? This is a question you need to ask yourself if you are to gain the advantage over another company. Your customers might love your business because it is different from the others, so if you try to compete with your rivals, it might change their opinion of you. If you are lagging behind your competitors, is it because they are doing something better than you, or is it because you aren’t doing enough to attract customers? Their success might be because their marketing is more effective than yours, so changing your campaign might be all you need to do. To find out how your customers feel about you, consider doing a survey. Ask them direct questions like ‘Can you find similar products to ours with other companies?’ or ‘If you found a similar product elsewhere would you switch?’ These questions will give you an idea of your customer’s views and loyalty.
What Are Your Unique Strengths?
Why do you want to be better than your competitors? You might think that being better than them is the best way to go, but perhaps it isn’t? If you are a small company that has a loyal customer base, then this is a strength that other companies might not have. Maybe your materials and suppliers are of superior quality to others. If you are using a polymers resin for example, then maybe the supplier you use has a higher quality. Think about what other strengths you have that other companies lack; these things might be the best reason to stay as you are rather than chasing after your rivals.
Investigate Your Competitors :
It might sound like an obvious point, but have you spent any time closely researching other companies? You need to do a detailed analysis of any company that you are looking to compete against, so you are aware of their potential against yours. You can do this yourself or with your team, and try to discover as much as you can. Alternatively, you can hire a professional company that is geared towards researching companies and their target market. While this will cost you additional money, the outcome might be more comprehensive and helpful than doing it yourself. The more information you have, the easier it will be for you to choose a course of action.
Have a Plan :
Once you have decided to try and gain the advantage, you need a plan of action. For example, if you are looking to gain the advantage by being cheaper, then you will need to find a way to reduce your costs. That will enable you to sell your products at a lower price. If you want to offer better customer service, then you will need to think about the more high-quality training of your staff or perhaps more communication options for your customers. A detailed plan will help you to see where your energy needs to be and what steps you need to get there. Factored into this plan has to cost. If gaining the advantage will cost more than you are prepared to spend, then where does that leave the company?
Market Your Advantage :
There is no point in making your products cheaper or higher quality if no-one knows about it. Make a point of telling your customers that you have something they need. Start a new campaign that focuses on your customer service or your local family run stores. All of this is important because it’s what you are using to get the advantage over your rivals. While this campaign is running, you also need to be looking at any response you get from your rivals. It might be that they start a campaign of their own to show their advantages. You need to be ready for this and have your marketing ready to deal with it. Apart from the main marketing campaign, you should also be mentioning it on your social media and your website. In fact, mention it anywhere you feel it can get seen by your customers.
It is important to remember your customers when you are going through this process. You might be so fixated on gaining the advantage over your competitors, that you lose sight of the important things. In the end, you want to gain customers, not lose them.
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