There is one thing in business you can always count on being a thorn in your side: your competition. It’s one of the only forces you cannot control, and they can be an unpredictable threat to your business. They are always out there willing to sell their product for less than your are, or to give away more to get the business. So what can you do?
1) Take the high road. This can be understandably difficult at times, especially if your competition is in a campaign to smear your name. But in the long run, taking the high road is always the smart choice. You offer a service and you work hard to treat your customers well and ensure they are happy. Use that in your marketing to show consumers you are the right choice. If your competition is undercutting your price, advertise how you have “2xxx happy customers since 1999” and show testimonials of why people chose your business.
2) Do your research. Just because your competition is taking out a full page ad or putting up a billboard doesn’t mean it’s successful for them. Don’t panic and say “we have to do that too!” Instead, do your homework. Call the magazine and get metrics on their readership and response rate. Call the billboard company and ask for a history of success with businesses like yours. Don’t just start throwing money at the wall because your competition is; that is just dumb business rationale. Stick to what is proven and works and invest your time and increased efforts there.
3) Solve customer problems. Don’t just talk about your business and how great you are. Show how you can solve problems. If you offer a service, show photos of before your service and after so people can see your results. Talk to the successes you have had with your work for clients and how you solved their issue. Real stories from real people work wonders for your business.
4) Get to know your customers. Don’t just offer your service and make the sale. Spend the time to get to know your customer and make them feel special. Do your due diligence to let them know you not only value them but are also interested in them. Some of my best customer experiences are people who remember me and call me by name, even if I don’t know them personally. These happy people are going to tell people about you and their experience at your business.
5) Differentiate yourself. One of the biggest reasons why a company lags behind its competition is that they aren’t doing a good job of showing why they are different from their competitors. To accomplish this you need to figure out two things. Why you are unique and why that matters to your customer.
6) Listen to your customers. Do you ask for feedback? Are you reaching out and listening to what they have to say about your product or service? There are some really easy ways to do this (including flat out asking in person) such as surveys, focus groups, social media, contact forms, etc., so make sure you follow up to gather feedback and make adjustments to your service as a result of what you learn.
Keep in mind that healthy competition is actually a good thing. It forces you to work harder and continually evolve your business and find new ways to make your customers excited about you.
Final thoughts – While this is easier said than done, you’ve got to move on from what your competition is doing. If you are obsessed with every move they make and it’s keeping you up every night, it’s going to show in your daily activities and your customer is going to see it and start to have doubts about you. The last thing you want to do is give them hesitation to start looking at your competition. Be confident and proud of your business and show the customer why they are in the right place.