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As intimidating as the competition can be, you need it to keep your business sharp. Having a direct competitor will keep you on your toes, push you to innovate, motivate you to keep pushing even when the times get tough.
The question is how you can leave your competition in the dust. It's a problem every business owner faces at some point or another, even your competition. So, what do you do to make sure you come out victorious?
Invest for success
Suppose you want to beat the competition you have to look after yourself first. Your business needs a strong foundation, and to create a strong foundation, you need to know your numbers. As a small business owner, you are likely guilty of holding on too tight to all the big jobs.
As important as it is that you can tackle bookkeeping, it's just as important you enlist someone else who can handle the job too. You can recruit someone specifically for the job of bookkeeping. Or, you can fund a course for a trusted employee who you believe is ready for more responsibility.
There are two main streams of knowledge that you need to seek to build a better business. The first is your customer base, and the second is your competition.
Information such as how your customers spend is helpful. That isn't enough, though, in terms of marketing plans. The best way to build effective marketing promotions is through knowledge.
You need to know your customers, have a relationship with them, and meet their needs. Tools such as social media analytics are an excellent way to get insight into what triggers customer purchases, and you can build marketing around information like that.
You can't place all the focus on securing new customers, and you have to cater to your existing customers. It's easy to leave them behind as you diversify, so you need to think about how to keep them happy.
For example, develop your bestsellers to retain those customers and attract new ones. By constantly developing the products, you keep customers happy and beat the competition.
You can't understand your competitor until you first look at the marketplace. What does your competitor do well? Do they have a unique story, or do they focus on building deeper relationships to convert customers? What does your competitor fail to do?
It might be that where they lack is where you can fill the gap in the market. When you know the main differences between you and your competitors, you can use that to market yourself.
Perhaps you offer better prices, maybe your digital platform is better, or it may be possible that you ethically source products, parts, or you're greener than the competition.
If you want to attract new customers while retaining old customers, you must ensure your message is clear. What does your business offer that no one else does? What can your business do for them that nobody else will?
Once you figure that out, you have the path to securing their business. You need to consider your audience carefully and consciously before you put out any communications.
The branding you design should reinforce the clear message you are trying to send. You want customers to see your branding and automatically recognize it as linked to your business.
Great examples of iconic branding include the golden arches of McDonald's, the red can of Coca-Cola, or even the swoosh of Nike. Branding is more than just a logo, though, and it's your entire ethos.
Does your branding support your message? If not, revisit it and make the necessary changes.
You won't build a successful business unless you have a great team behind you. The best way to build a great team is to recruit well and offer your team a living wage, support to grow, and motivate them to succeed.
Seek feedback from your team and listen to what they're telling you. Tech companies can put bouncy balls in every office instead of a chair, but just because it works somewhere doesn't mean it will work for you.
What will work for you is what your employees tell you will work for them. Employees want responsibility, they want ownership or their role, they want to feel heard and respected. There's no need to complicate matters when you can ask them what they need from you to succeed.