While serving on my local Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors, a member contacted me and wanted the BoD to ban a competing business from an event. At first, I thought it was joke until he continued the conversation with a high level of seriousness in his voice. Since then, as I have been working my consulting clients, I am mindful of how they view their competition. Although you can not make your competition disappear, there are some strategies that you can implement to reduce your worry factor.
- Don’t be afraid to get to know your competition. There are some things that your competition is obviously doing well to have remained operational but there are also some things that they can probably improve upon. Don’t feel as though you have to fill the void of each of your competitors but when creating your marketing strategy, you should be aware of what sets you apart as well as what key service/products will help to keep you in business.
- Play nice. Once we find out some areas that our competition may struggle with or hear some client complaints, it may be tempting to shout it from the rooftops so that prospects can see how we are better. However, it can be turn off to those prospects when you begin to bash your competition. Rather than focus on their negatives, turn the conversation to your positives. I have been in several situations where a client began to tell me how they felt I was different from someone who did the same thing that I do. I knew who they were talking about and could have easily pointed out some additional differences but instead I kept the conversation focused on my products and services.
- Be true to yourself. Not only do you need to understand who your competition is and be able to articulate what sets you apart, you have to be sure that you are staying true to the mission of your business. Many businesses get sidetracked trying to fill a void outside of their core competence and it creates confusion for the customer. I remember when Hardees started selling fried chicken. Although the product was very good, it was hard for me to get into because Hardees is known for the burgers. Needless to say, it didn’t last very long. If you stray from your primary brand offering, make sure that don’t move too far away from what your business is known for to avoid customer confusion.
- Deliver on your promises. Many businesses have a tendency to overpromise to get the customer and under deliver which causes them to lose the customer. It is less expensive for your business to keep a customer than to market and obtain a new customer. Take a realistic look at your service/product offering and what you are telling your client they will receive. Are you delivering on your promise? If not, you could be the competition that we mentioned in point 1 and eliminating yourself from the market.
In today’s globally competitive marketplace, understanding your unique value to your customers as well as how you’re different from your competition and being able to deliver on your promises will be keys to your success.