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Five Lessons to Learn from Your Competition
  • 18 August 2016
  • Elvis Michael

Five Lessons to Learn from Your Competition

It goes without saying that competition drives innovation. While your goal is to ultimately be the best, you simply cannot build a sustainable business without competitors consistently improving the landscape. Therefore, learning from your competitors is crucial when it comes to driving your business forward. Let's look at the various ways in which business rivals can actually help you beat them at their own game.

1. Know where they stand

As a small business owner, you may already be familiar with your audience's main necessities, but so is your competition. Knowing what the other guys are offering is a great way to deliver higher value. What are your rivals doing differently and how are they going about it? Perhaps they offer similar services but have more attractive incentives or rewards programs.

Competition analysis will help you stay ahead because it enables you to develop a more valuable strategy for both consumers and your business infrastructure. You do not need to reinvent the wheel here; just rise above your competitors with a new angle.

2. Assess their weaknesses

In contrast to the above, analyzing your competitor's weaknesses is a surefire way to stand out. Thankfully, businesses tend to leave various clues about their intricate operation methods—even in subtle ways. For example, what is their social media strategy? How often do they engage with their target audience? Are they choosing the best possible times to do so? How do they communicate or come across?

Whether your competitor lacks a hassle-free refund policy or has a disorganized in-store experience or website setup, there is always a way to find their weaknesses and use that to your advantage.

3. Customers are your highest priority

Successful businesses do not focus primarily on their competitors, but rather on their customers. While competitive analysis helps you stay ahead, customer satisfaction ultimately helps you stay afloat.

UPS' competitive advantage lies heavily on outstanding customer service. This is something that most competitors naturally integrate, but few actually go above and beyond to ensure unquestionable satisfaction. Even if your competitor is proficient in this area, analyzing their inner workings (and aforementioned weaknesses) allows you to gain the upper hand with your target audience.

4. Analyze their company culture

Employees are often dissatisfied with their company culture, whether a business has unnecessarily strict regulations or their methods feel robotic and bland. What can you learn from other businesses to improve employee satisfaction?

While figuring out your competitors' internal culture may prove difficult, you can still assess the situation through various means. For example, become a regular customer for a limited time and take a look around from a professional's perspective. Be curious, and study employee behavior and communication. In addition, survey your own employees, as well as your customers, to improve upon your strengths and deliver greater value. Diligent homework combined with genuine feedback can help you establish the right company culture and stand apart from any and all competitors.

5. Study their brand and persona

A small business's brand plays a substantial role in the way customers interact. Your brand has the power to represent your business's personality, which naturally leads to higher customer engagement and sales. However, what if your client base relates better to your competitor's image? Perhaps they have adapted a sense of humor that your company lacks, or have a welcoming aura that reassures customers that they will have a great time while shopping. Maybe your store lacks background music or a greater level of customer-friendly interaction.

Sweat the small details to inject more personality into your brand, regardless of how your competitors are doing. Entertain customers who are waiting in a long line or surprise loyal customers with a free gift, especially if your business is kid-friendly.

In the end, a little healthy competition is good for business. Always keep tabs on your competitors while staying true to your mission and satisfying customers with the very best your business has to offer.

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