7 ways to stay ahead of your competitors

It doesn’t matter what kind of industry you work in – you will have competitors. You’ll have people that have the same (or similar) products or services as you, who are looking to target the same prospects as you. So the question is, what can you do to stand out from the rest?

1 – Understand your competition and your customers

Spend some time researching your competition, and try to identify their Unique Selling Proposition (USP). If they’re offering the same product or service as you, how have they identified themselves as being the best option? What is it about them that makes them stand out in the market?

Their product could be more expensive than yours and much lower quality, but if their USP is better known, customers will choose them.

But it’s not just your competition that you have to understand though; you also need to know your customers. Put together a customer profile, defining the common characteristics, personality traits and buying habits that your target audience has. What is it that makes them buy from you?

Once you’ve put all this research together, you’ll be in a better position to under what matters to them, whether that’s price, quality, flexibility or reliability. Whatever it is, you want to be aware of it if you’re going to sell to them successfully.

2 – Know what makes you different

By now you should have an idea of the USPs for a number of your competitors. Chances are you’ll have spotted that a few of them have the same USP – so they aren’t so unique after all!

So, ask yourself: What can I offer that my competitors can’t?

It could be that you’ve written a book that’s relevant to the industry, it could be that you’ve been established the longest, or it could be that you provide complimentary services that your competitors don’t. Whatever it is that you have to make you better than the rest, you need to get it out there.

3 – Consider updating your brand

This can include anything related to your brand – your website, your social media profiles, your business cards, and other marketing materials. Make sure everything reflects your USP and does it well.

Sometimes it can be hard to look at these things objectively, so get the opinion of people who will give you honest feedback. Ask them if your branding makes them want to get involved with the company – does it give the impression that you’re trustworthy and able to provide the service they want?

4 – Remember your existing customers

In the quest to find new clients, the existing clients can often be forgotten by businesses. Make sure you’re not guilty of this! It’s important to keep your current customers happy if you want to keep them loyal to your brand.

The last thing you want is to risk your competitors getting their custom, and if they’re happy they’re more likely to recommend you to people. This can increase your referrals which, in turn, will increase your profits.

5 – Broaden your horizons

Don’t just stick to what you know, target new markets that might be interested in your products or services. Do some research into the various customer profiles that might find what you offer relevant to them and, if you’re not already targeting them, put steps in place to do just that.

You could also expand your offer in some way. Think about what else you could offer your customers that you don’t offer right now, for example.

6 – Plan for growth

One of the biggest tips you can take away from this post is to never stay still. Don’t ever let yourself get too comfortable. You need to be on your toes to keep up with the developments in your industry!

It’s so easy for small businesses to get stuck in a rut. You find a product that sells, you keep selling it – but in doing this, you’re missing out on a huge chunk of the market. Know where you want to be in five years’ time and make a plan to get there, but be prepared to adapt it to the ebbs and flows of change in your industry.

7 – Try new marketing channels

Speaking of planning for growth, you should try new marketing channels as well as new target audiences. If you’re not properly focusing on marketing your business online, then there’s a whole lot you’re missing out on.

For example, look at how big social media has become! Sites like Facebook have developed into an incredibly effective marketing platform for businesses of all sizes. With over a billion users, Facebook is full of potential customers and useful data that you can use for marketing your business online.