Having a tough competition is only a negative thing if you fail to see the amazing opportunity that such a situation presents you with. Think about you being the first (or at least one of the first) businesses to enter a certain niche and having an amazing offer for your potential customers. Would it be truly seen as amazing if there were no inferior offer to compare it to? In other words, competitors can serve as a point of reference, in your favor.
Moreover, if they have arrived to the niche before you, they can prepare, probe and test the market, leaving you with ample material and finds to learn from. Still, in order for all of these things to work in your favor, you need to find a way to differentiate yourself and here are five suggestions that just might work.
1. Narrowing down your niche
Imagine a scenario where you have two retailers dealing in boxing equipment that you want to buy a boxing mouth guard from. One of these retailers sells all boxing equipment, while the latter specializes in mouth guards exclusively? Which of them would you be more likely to trust on this issue, especially if you need a specialized mouth guard (the one that goes with braces, etc.)? Well, the latter one of course. In other words, narrowing down your niche gives you more credibility and differentiates you in a positive light.
2. Learn from their mistakes
If you’re coming to the party later than your competitors are, you’ll have the privilege of studying them and learning from their mistakes. This will allow you to use all the elements that they’ve used right and avoid their mistakes. The simplest way to spot them is to emulate the customer experience. Register, look through their offer and even buy something to see what their checkout system looks like.
3. Be devoted to your staff
Don’t assume that your audience doesn’t notice how you treat your staff. Also, don’t assume that they don’t care. Ethical treatment of your employees is not just important from the point of view of a public image but can also affect your productivity, your talent attraction and retention efforts, as well as your corporate values. For starters, you need to give them proper working conditions, safe environment, as well as consult someone skilled in workers compensation law, should the need arise. You should also abandon that outdated idea that the customer is always right and stand with your staff when they are unjustly accused.
4. Mingle with your audience incognito
In the digital world, it’s fairly easy to identify your target demographic, as well as to find out which forums and sites they’re frequently visiting. In the comment section of these subreddits and social media pages, you can learn quite a bit about both your brand and those of your competitors. This will help you address the issue that your audience is so passionate about in order to let them know you’ve noticed. However, to find out the real truth, you should visit these places incognito and keep your ear to the ground.
5. Be transparent in all things
One of the things that your audience simply hates are the hidden fees. Deducting the cost of shipping, taxes and several other items in order to make the price appear lower is a trick that may work once. However, due to the fact that about 8 percent of your return customers make about 40 percent of your entire profit, it’s quite questionable just how profitable this black-hat technique actually is. Instead, you should try to be transparent in all matters and in this way establish a relationship based on trust with your audience. This will allow you to reap benefits in the long-run.
Lastly, being different from your competition is not a project that you can complete. It’s a lifelong endeavor. Think about it, same as you learn from them, they’ll learn from you, which is why it won’t be long until they start emulating some of your most profitable endeavors. This is why it’s a priority that you always find a way to stay one step ahead of them. While this is undoubtedly arduous and complex, the business world is not a place for the weak and the lazy, to begin with.