It is very rare that a small business will run its course without coming in contact with at least a couple competitors. Whether you’re on the same street competing for foot traffic, or just in the same industry and you keep running into each other online, keeping tabs on your business competitors is a very real part of owning a small business.
So when a new competitor moves in, how do stay on top of them, and keep all of your customers?
Related Article: Building Barriers to Entry- How to Keep the Competition at Bay
Remember That You Were New Once
Because you’ve been in the new guy’s shoes before, you already know the moves he’s going to make. Think back to when you first opened your business, what marketing strategies did you implement? How did you gain customers? Chances are, he’s going to make similar choices. Your own experience is your best advisor when guessing your competitor’s starting moves. Ask yourself, “What would I do if I had to compete with myself?” Not only will you have a good idea of how your competitors will react to your business, but you’ll probably learn a lot about your business along the way.
Observe Them Afar
Unless you’re in an industry where the success of your business partially depends upon the atmosphere of your place of establishment (like a restaurant or lounge) there isn’t much need to physically check in on your competition. Today, you can find just about everything you need to know online. Take a look at their social profiles every once in a while to see how they market themselves, what kind of voice they have, etc. If you see a lot of your previous Facebook fans making their way to your competitor’s page, take note of what they’re doing currently to win them over. It’s a lot easier to see what our competitors are up to nowadays.
Clearly Distinguish the Differences Between the Two
When there are two similar businesses for customers to choose between, it’s important to distinguish differences even when the products and services may seem similar. Think about what exactly separates you from the competition and advertise that. Maybe you put a huge emphasis on customer service. You don’t have to blatantly say, “We have much better customer service than the other guy!” but make it known that you’re proud of the customer service your business provides.
Related Article: 5 Profitable Reasons for Startups to Partner with Competitors
Look for Possibility of a Partnership
This works if the two of you don’t offer the same exact products or services. There may be a way the two of you can benefit one another, whether by swapping blog posts once a month and cross blogging, or offering each other’s coupons to customers. Often, first-glance competitors can turn into partnerships. Before you completely ride them off as competitors, think about if there’s any way the two of you can work together.