We’ve consulted with many clients over the years who have expressed a certain amount of fear and loathing for the activity of looking at their competition. It can be intimidating to say the least. Particularly if you are a new business, when you look at who’s already out there doing their thing in your locality, it can be disheartening. You may have just spent a year getting your business ready for launch, and are now faced with the massive task of marketing it. Looking at other companies who are already rocking it, does have a habit of making you worry how on earth you’re going to match up, let alone excel, or beat them.
There’s so much on the Internet today about how to stand out and compete, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but what if you took another approach to your competition? It’s natural to feel threatened by your competitors – it usually highlights any insecurities you have about yourself and you ability to create and run a successful business – but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Collaboration, not Competition
What if you reach out to your competitors with an attitude of collaboration? There are plenty of ways this can work, especially if you’ve done your research before settling on your niche, product or service offfering. If you know what your competitors are offering before you create your business plan, you can find ways in which to be different. Different is obviously good because it immediately marks you apart from the competition, but it’s also good because then you’re not directly competing for the exact same product or service, and if you’re not directly competing, there are more ways in which you can collaborate. Think about making connections with businesses around you that offer something slightly different to you – something complementary. There may well be areas of expertise that you offer that they don’t and vice versa. People and businesses are stronger when they work together, and it makes sense that if you can find ways to cross promote your business with someone else’s, both of you can prosper rather than strive on alone.
It is important to be aware of your competition because it is only in relation to others that you can work out where you fit. We can’t all do the exact same thing, and that’s great! It’s diverse; it produces more opportunities.
Land of a Thousand Hairdressers
In the town of Thornbury where I live, North of Bristol, there are so many hair salons it’s
almost funny! It’s not a big town, but, everyone needs their hair cutting, right? So the hair dressers of Thornbury have had to carve out their niches. Some will just see women, some men, some both. Some are high end salons, others are more affordable. Some focus on a particular lifestyle they want to appeal to, others are basic and no-frills. It’s a good example of the ways in which lots of businesses that ostensibly do the exact same thing can operate in close proximity and still all flourish. Ultimately, it will be the establishments with the best service that rise to the top; but they can only service so many people, and there’s still plenty of long hair to be cut by the rest!
There was one establishment, who I shall not name, that decided that when they started up in business, that the competition were a threat, and took it upon themselves to begin a campaign of slander on other barbers in the area, spreading rumours of people retiring, or closing shop due to ill health. Complete lies, of course. How do you think that approach will serve them in the long run?
If we can move past seeing our fellow businessmen and women as a threat, there are ways in which we can co-operate and even collaborate, rather than simply coexisting or competing. Tempting as it is, don’t bury your head in the sand and ignore your compeititors for the sake of not stressing yourself out! Simply readjust your attitude to competition, and realise they can be a great help to you. Forge relationships, don’t tread on anyone’s toes, and watch how things improve for everyone.
Inevitably there will be many situations where it may not be possible to avoid a total clash of products or services, in which case just remember that there is usually more than enough to go round for everyone. Try to learn from each other, and develop your service offering to appeal to a unique audience.
Keep your friends close…
We recommend our clients analyse their competitors monthly or quarterly in the following way:
- What products or services do they offer, and how much are they?
- Are they running any promotions or offers?
- What are their offline marketing activities?
- How are they operating within the local community? Are they involved with charities, sponsorships, competitions etc?
- What is their online presence like – check out their website, Facebook page, and other social media platforms
- On social media, what kind of content do they post and how often? What kind of response do their posts get?
- Are there areas of their business that overlap with yours that are causing you stress? How can you tweak your product offering or marketing to appeal to a more distinct market?
You can learn a lot from your competition. They are highly useful in helping you to refine your product. You’ll see what they do well, and what they don’t do so well. You can find out about their online and offline marketing and how yours can be different. About the geography of your customer bases and how you can reach people they don’t cover. You can find ways in which your services and products can be complimentary. In some cases, you may even be in a position to refer business to each-other when you’re at capacity.
Bottom line is: don’t be scared of the competition. There’s only one ‘you’, and the way you create is unique to you. Go ahead and create your ass off! Find ways to collaborate with the businesses around you, and watch it all grow!
If you would like help getting your business off the ground and need a first class web-presence, we’d be delighted to speak with you. Deluxe Web can help your business branding stand out on the web and communicate your message with clarity and style. Talk to us today about your project.