How to Differentiate Yourself from the Competition

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If you don't have a competitive advantage, don't compete - Jack Welch

Have you ever wondered how you can differentiate yourself from the competition?

Some experts recommend against structuring your business strategy around your competitors but it would be foolhardy to completely overlook the real and potential threat that competitors pose to your business.

Most industries, no matter how new or niche-specific, are characterized by considerable competition, making it necessary to differentiate yourself to stay in business. If you can set yourself apart from the pack you’ll position your business for greater brand awareness and increased profit.

Here are some effective ways to differentiate your business from your competitors:

Capitalize on your competitors’ weaknesses

8S64npOgTu2eWTZIXEfy_DSC_0955To beat the competition, you need to fill a gap that they are not fulfilling. To identify any existing gaps, conduct a competitor analysis using different strategies such as in-person visits to a competitor’s store as a customer, interaction with the business owner etc.

Your main aim is to identify the areas where your competition is failing and to come in and cater for the unmet needs. If your product or service is supported by quality, you will become the industry leader even in the most crowded of markets.

A word of caution: When marketing to your customers, avoid over emphasizing the competition. By bringing up the competition too much, you are essentially presenting your customers with alternatives and this only serves to sabotage your business, quickly.

Make customer satisfaction the ultimate focus

The most successful brands and entrepreneurs are those who are genuinely devoted to customer satisfaction. Even in the age of open business, facilitated by social media, it is surprising how many businesses do not consider the implications of bad customer service.

Perhaps the most powerful way to stay ahead of competitors is to be obsessed with providing your customers with extraordinary service—it is likely that many of your competitors are slacking on customer service.

Customers want to feel valued and that brands care about their needs. In turn, they reward the most caring brands with consistent loyalty.

Invest in innovation

social media challengesSmart businesses understand the need to keep abreast with technological changes to remain relevant to the target market. A look at some of the most successful brands will reveal one common attribute: their commitment to innovation.

Technology is rapidly changing the way people do business, how consumers purchase, how they interact with brands, how products and services are developed, and how they are delivered.

Staying ahead of these continuing changes through research and development may sometimes require significant resources but there is no denying that successful businesses are those that innovate.

Increase the value of your offering

Consumers want value for their money and in an increasingly competitive marketplace, they will shop around for the products that conveniently fulfill their needs

Adding value to your products is a simple yet very effective way to outshine your competitors. Value addition allows you to offer improved products that cater to the specific needs of your target market.

However, it is not enough to just differentiate yourself through value adding; you need to communicate this value to your target market. Your targets should know, see and believe that indeed there is a difference between your products and those of the competition.

Whether its bundling services to offer a premium product at a lower price, or offering free shipping, discounts or other incentives, consumers want to perceive that they got bang for their buck, otherwise they will run to the competitor who offers better value.

Leverage the power of community engagement

blogIn the age of social media and greater mobile penetration, consumers are demanding more engagement from brands. In fact, consumers say that they feel greater loyalty and trust toward brands that engage with them regularly on social media.

Smart brands are no longer neglecting their community of customers. Rather, they are investing time and resources in engaging their community especially on social media. Engagement takes the form of valuable content, promotions, contests, sharing of insider trends etc.

Sustained engagement is a powerful strategy for customer retention and customer loyalty. In turn, these loyal customers become enthusiastic ambassadors for your brand.

How to Compete

Today, customers are more knowledgeable and discriminative, requiring businesses to implement innovative strategies to thrive in a competitive environment and to keep customers loyal for the long term. In the end, customers are more loyal to brands that genuinely care, understand their needs and go the extra mile to meet these needs.

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