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Monthly Business e-Tips Vol 4
Issue 7

Beating the Competition

"With an explosion of products and competitors, the consumer individual or commercial is overwhelmed by choices. Your distinction had best stand out - unequivocally." Tom Peters

Some business owners react to everything their competitors do while others ignore them all together. The best way to run your business is to know who your competitors are, analyze their strengths and weaknesses and determine how they attract customers. However, a winning strategy is not to mimic your competitors but to figure out how to differentiate your business from the rest.

Know how you are different, and if you’re not, figure out how to stand out. Customers need a reason to do business with you rather than someone else. So don’t try to copy your competitors and be an imitator brand. Discern your uniqueness. Once you have identified the difference you offer, make sure it is clear to your prospects and customers. Communicate and live the difference so it is evident to everyone.

Here are some ways you can develop competitive advantage:

  • Make it easy to do business. Be visible so people can find you - online as well as physically. Market your business so that potential customers know you exist and what you offer. Make sure your phone number and e-mail address are clearly posted on all outgoing communications. Be responsive to inquiries and demonstrate that you want their business.
  • Provide a great customer experience. Referrals are the best and cheapest way to get new customers. Make sure everyone who deals with your company has a positive experience. That means customers are more important than anything else. They will know it by how they are greeted, served and how questions and problems are addressed.
  • Provide flexible delivery. Offer your products and services in a way that meets your customers’ needs rather than your own. Give them choices and accommodate them whenever possible. This gives you a real edge. Everyone is extremely busy and stressed so be available when they are.
  • Make your strengths correspond to your competitors weaknesses. If your competitors make it difficult to return items, make your return policy simple and fast. If the law firm across town is slow to call clients back, be sure you and your staff return calls within four to six hours.
  • Identify gaps in the market. If your competitors serve baby boomers, try going after Gen X and Gen Yers. If others are serving males, make it attractive for females to do business with you. Home Depot finally got the message that contractors and the handymen of households were not their only customers. Women make a lot of remodeling decisions so Home Depot now targets marketing messages and offers do-it-yourself clinics for female patrons.
Knowing your competition is important for success. Be better than, not the same as the others. Take a good hard look at your business. For great feedback ask your loyal customers why they chose you. Then ask your lost customers why they didn’t select you or left for a competitor and you will learn what you need to improve. Now you are on the path to beating your competition.

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