Regardless of the type of your business, you will always find competitors in the same field. Competition is undoubtedly healthy for business – it will give you motivation to constantly improve and develop. However, rivalry can often be intimidating, especially for freshly set up businesses. You might find yourself unsure how to combat your competition and worried about the consequences of failing to outperform your competitors.
However, there are key strategies that support business development and meaningful progression. Today we will discuss how to handle competition as a small business owner and help you understand your assets.
Know your customers
80% of businesses don’t have enough customer data to build effective social media campaigns. However, this does not mean that marketers don’t know their customers. Most businesses know their customers’ purchasing patters, which is certainly a valuable piece of information. Nonetheless, there is so much more information you could be using to improve your marketing plans. We have discussed customer engagement in one of our most recent articles. The post outlines how to build a relationship between a business and a customer and discusses how you can identify what triggers your customers to buy your product. Going an extra mile to get to know your customer and their preferences before an one off purchase is one of ways how you can stand out among your competitors.
Understand your competition
Understanding your competitors is crucial. It is impossible to create a plan without knowing your competitors, what they do, what strategy they use and how they communicate with customers. Once you have a good understanding of you competitors, you can identify their strengths and good practice. This will enable you to cross-reference your competitor’s assets with your own business. Consequently, you will be able to identify how you can improve your business practices.
The second part of this process is just as, if not more, important. You need to identify what your competitors don’t do so that you can fill in that gap in the market.
Emphasise your originality
Upon completing the first two steps, you will know what the differences between you and your competitors are. Are you focusing on a particular style of products? Are your products cheaper? Or maybe you are hosting giveaways and live events on Instagram? There always is an angle to your business’ story that could push you above the competition. Finding the right balance between adapting good practice and discovering how to stand out is essential; once you find your niche, you will start creating an atmosphere of exclusivity that is something your customers won’t find anywhere else.
Take pride in what you do
Apart from competing with other small businesses, small business owners and freelancers often have an ongoing battle with bigger companies and chains. Chain companies present a significant challenge to small business owners and it is easy to get intimidated by their resources and politics. However, being surrounded by bigger businesses does not mean that they can provide the same products or services that you do.
As a small business owner, you are unique and your business needs to reflect that. Your personalised, customer focused service, original products and atmosphere of exclusivity of your business are something no other place can offer. People like to be noticed and feel like they are a part of something unique. Make sure that your marketing strategy reflects and emphasises your originality.
Clarify your message
To attract customers, your business needs to have a clear message. Customers want to know what you can do for them that no one else can. It is also not enough to throw a message into the void and hope it sticks with someone. Bold and consistent marketing strategy is what will make you win your customers.
For example, if your business’ niche is vintage handmade clothing and your key themes are sustainability and appreciation for independent fashion, you need to make sure this message shines through every post on your social media channels. A clearly crafted narrative will bring customers to you and help them connect with your brand.
Target new markets
Knowing your market and deciding on your business strategy does not mean that you cannot expand any further. Continuous progress is a significant part of the process that will help you show your customers how unique your business is.
Following from the previous example, once you successfully connect with your audience and have a clear agenda for your vintage clothing business, you can think what else your audience could be interested in. Perhaps people who love your handmade vintage clothing are also interested in vintage home decor? Or maybe they would be interested in buying eco homemade products such as jams or biscuits? Exploring new markets can lead to faster and better growth. However, do remember that you need to get your original market right first before you plan further expansion.
Look after your existing customers
If you decide to widen your services and explore new markets, don’t forget the customers who are already loyal to your brand. New markets are exciting to enter and if your business is ready, they can lead to a big payoff. However, expanding your offer shouldn’t stop you from developing your current products. Continuing to develop your original products will help you ensure support for your existing customers.
Based on the vintage shop example, if you decide to include home decor in your offer, don’t forget about your initial product: handmade vintage clothing. Introduce new or better products, stay up to date with the current trends and actively promote your bestsellers. Product development can help you outperform competitors and keep your customers happy.
Explore partnership opportunities
Whether you are a business owner or a freelancer, partnership opportunities are always worth looking into. Most businesses reach out to others in the hopes of reaching a new market or demographic. However, you need to be careful whilst exploring partnership opportunities. While the right partnerships are mutually beneficial, a rushed partnership with the wrong business can lead to wasted resources and awkwardness.
When considering partnerships, think of what your business needs to succeed more. On the example used before, as a handmade vintage clothing shop, you might want to connect with local independent cafés, home decor shops and freelancers producing prints and graphics. Establishing a partnership could lead to gaining new customers, increasing your brand visibility and forming a meaningful close connection with your new partners.
It is important to remember that achieving set goals does not mean that it is time to stop evolving. The world is always changing and business practices that are most optimal can completely change sooner rather than later. Changes can seem scary but markets benefit from innovation. By constantly developing, you will stay focus on the goal and keeping high standards while keeping your customers interested in your business.
While considering how to handle innovation, older companies are great sources to examine. How have they managed to keep up with the times? How do they handle change and how do they adapt to new standards? These questions will help you see the logic of innovation and form a strategy that will help your business develop.
Business competition can be fierce but staying faithful to these key strategies will help you deal with rivalry. Handling competition with a calculated, calm approach and clear strategy will help you stand out and emphasise your uniqueness. Use these ideas on how to handle your competition as a small business to defend your market position and build your competitive advantage.
Crafting marketing strategies is our speciality. From creating a clear agenda, setting objectives and resource planning to producing original content, launching engaging campaigns and innovative branding, we can help you deal with the competition and open your business to new opportunities.
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