Keeping your business up to speed with today’s ever-evolving market trends and intense competition is a challenge no matter how you slice it. But businesses should never underestimate the power of retaining their customers when determining their next move within the marketplace.
Here are four ways to differentiate your product and keep your business competitive so you can exceed expectations.
How to keep your business competitive
1. Attract new clients.
When you’re an entrepreneur, It’s easy to get sucked into working diligently with your nose to the grindstone, forgetting to come up for air. Working hard and being an entrepreneur are so closely intertwined that you probably wonder from time to time if you aren’t better off working a corporate job.
The difference in running your own business is that you’re the one powering the economic motor. You’re the driver behind the wheel and your decisions are the ones that your company lives or dies by.
But there’s an age-old problem for small businesses. You have too much work and so many orders that you’re up all night and working around the clock to meet their needs. In fact, you need to take on more people to help your company grow. So why should you even think about attracting new clients?
You should because if you get too close to your projects and you’re constantly marketing to and working with the same client base, you’re failing to plan for the long term. If you don’t want to become the next Eastman Kodak or Blockbuster, or wake up one day and find that your clothing accessories are being sold to an aging market while the new generation is buying elsewhere, you need to focus continually on attracting new clients.
Start by thinking about simple ways to bring accessibility and convenience to your customers. For example, prevent your customers from becoming turned off or overwhelmed with the payment process. Make the process quick and easy so they feel excited and reassured about their purchase, and don’t have time to regret their decision.
Allowing your payment programs to pre-fill returning clients’ information, like their address, when they type in their ZIP code is a great option to offer customers. Nothing beats quick and easy for customers in the modern world of curbside pickup and lightning-fast delivery orders. The sooner they’re able to purchase, the sooner they’re able to receive. This produces happier customers who will share their positive experiences online and in person, with friends and strangers alike.
Bottom Line: To attract new customers, keep in mind what is both popular and convenient for them, and how to make their shopping experience easy. Simplifying the online payment system is one great way to do that.
2. Predict the future.
You don’t need a crystal ball to predict (or at least try to anticipate) the future, but it does require some thinking outside the box. Having a long-term vision is hardly the biggest secret on the block. As far back as 1903, when Henry Ford launched the Ford Motor Co., this pioneer entrepreneur took advantage of his business foresight by already thinking years ahead of everyone else. “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses,” he once said.
Long-term vision for your business is vital. Most of the time, you’ll need to innovate and figure out what trends in the market may come before they appear. According to Steve Jobs, “a lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
If you can keep yourself informed, updated and ahead of the curve, your business will be better positioned to compete in a global marketplace.
3. Respond to changing markets.
The market can be unpredictable and constantly evolves over time, so pay attention to what your customers are buying and actively saying they need, despite whatever your company is currently delivering.
When in doubt, get feedback from your customers first, and listen to what they say about problems they’re facing or solutions they wish were available. Getting to know your customers will give your company the best advantage and breed confidence against the competition. You never know when you might need that. Be open to criticism and treat your customers like your first priority. It’ll pay off with your return on investment.
4. Be open to new opportunities.
You might have started your company for a single purpose, to fill a gap in the market for comfortable mattresses, high-powered handheld entertainment devices or children’s toys. But that doesn’t mean that your business shouldn’t or can’t evolve to offer other products and services as well.
The most successful businesses are continually developing to meet changing market demands and are therefore open to new opportunities. It isn’t always easy to keep your business competitive in a cutthroat world. But if you focus on opening up new markets, adapting your product or service to meet changing tastes, and being aware of new opportunities, you’re less likely to be blindsided by sudden paradigm shifts or overnight crashes, and more likely to run a successful business that thrives for generations. [Learn what makes a successful sales personality.]
Even if your company is only known for one thing, don’t be afraid to branch out and create a niche market to benefit your business. It’s a perfect opportunity to promote change and distinguish your brand from competitors. Take critiques from your customers, accept full accountability, and target those problems with your new niche as a solution.
Bottom Line: Your niche market allows you to demonstrate how your brand is unique and better than your competitors. Do more for your customers than they expect from you. Go above and beyond to ensure their needs are met.
How to monitor your competition
1. Use automation tools.
If you want to keep up with trends or even just learn from your competitors’ mistakes, automatic top media monitoring tools will save you time and money. Plug in the correct keywords to track, and the system will find where brands are mentioned on company sites, blog pieces, social media accounts and other web pages in a matter of seconds.
2. Track and analyze competitors’ content.
One of the best ways to monitor the performance of your competitors is to pay close attention to their content and how it ranks on search engines. This determines how visible their website is on search results pages of relevant search engines like Google or Yahoo. Pay attention to your competitors’ SEO to see how they generate web traffic and what strategies will help you attain better results, like using the same keywords for content and social media posts.
Tip: Investigate competitors that offer the best value for their products and services, then decide whether your company exceeds that value and should set higher prices for customers. Great value is always worth the investment.
3. Regularly scope out their websites.
Check out your competitors’ websites to inform yourself of the latest events or products they’re offering, as well as how efficient or user-friendly their site is for customers. By studying their site, you can determine how your own compares in terms of copy, product descriptions, blog posts, pictures, contact info, usability, payment processes and so on.
4. Evaluate your competitors’ prices.
Your competitors’ prices will determine whether or not your company charges too much or too little. If your prices are more expensive, customers may be turned off, but if they are too cheap, customers may assume your products or services are low quality. Try to find a medium measure in pricing to attract customers. Checking your competitors’ prices can help you gauge the appropriate pricing methods.