No matter what your business or in what niche you decide to operate, you’re bound to find a variety of competitors fighting for their share of the market. This competition will likely raise the need to somehow distinguish your business from the crowd. Marketers call it ‘brand differentiation’.
Doing this can be difficult however; since it might feel like those in similar operations are always one step ahead of you. However, you sometimes must turn the tables and look at your competition not as an obstacle but as an opportunity from which you can gain some valuable insight.
1. Learn From Your Competitors
You might have to resist the urge to fight your competition. While in some instances you might find waging war against a competitor is a necessary evil, there is often much that can be learned from our enemies. Using your competitors as resources (especially if they are doing more business than you), can help you figure out what they are doing right, and in some instances, what they are doing wrong. This can help you to come up with ways to differentiate yourself from them.
It may be that you don’t have that many competitors in your business’s vicinity from which you can glean information. It might therefore be a good idea to do some research on the Internet, trade shows, seminars and yes, maybe even the local library, to help you obtain facts and market information about your particular market vertical. This could help you come up with ideas as to how you can establish a particular niche that’s different from the competition.
3. A Distinct Advantage
Sometimes differentiating your business is as easy as offering one distinct advantage over the competition. Whether this advantage is discounted pricing, faster delivery time, higher quality products or services, or some other unique offering, it may mean the difference between standing out from the crowd and being lost in it.
4. Above and Beyond
Going above and beyond when it comes to customer service could provide you with a distinct advantage over the competition. Great service, whether it’s during a transaction or when correcting an issue, may mean that your customers are more likely to remember your business. There is also typically a customer base out there that would rather pay a little extra for a product or service in order to get the best of whatever is being offered, and this can be a great way not only to make more money for your business but to build and retain a strong customer base.
You and your business’s experience or expertise could be what sets you apart from your competition. Having extensive experience within a field can provide customers with a sense of relief and well-being. It’s like an advertisement saying, “We’ve been around for a long time, and it’s not just because of our good looks. We know what we’re doing here and aren’t some fly-by-night operation.”
6. Ask Questions
Asking customers what you and your business can do better, whether simply by conversing with them or by using comment cards or surveys, can help you find out what you are or aren’t doing to set yourself apart from the competition. This can also be a great way to make your customers feel involved in your operation and let them know that you are open to their input and willing to improve your service to them.
7. Listen and Take Action
Asking questions can be a great way to get a leg up on the competition, but you won’t necessarily get the competitive edge that you’re seeking simply by asking customers what they want. You must also listen to what they are saying and take action.
Many businesses will say that they are listening to your input or tell you what you want to hear, only to continue to do things the way they always have. A good business will listen to what their customers want and center their operations around those needs.
8. Know What You Do Best
Knowing what you and your operation do best can be critical to differentiating yourself from the competition. Some businesses try to incorporate many different aspects into their operations, only to discover that they can do them all but not do any of them exceedingly well. A good business owner however, often realizes what it is that his business does particularly well and focuses upon doing that better than anyone else.
Guest blogger David Boyd is co-founder of CreditCardCompare.co.au, one of the top websites in Australia offering a thorough and impartial comparison of credit cards. You can also write guest posts here.