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  • Recognising who your competitors are
    To succeed in any business, you need to do your homework when it comes to recognising who your competitors are and how they work. As a new business, it is imperative that you have an understanding of who you are competing with. Competition in itself is big business in today’s world so having knowledge about who else is looking to grab the attention of your customer’s time and money is essential. Do as much research as you can to see if your competition is selling the same products or services or are selling substitutes. Every company, regardless of how long they have been in business, has strengths and weaknesses and you need to find out what they are as quickly as possible. Also, see where they stand in terms of market presence. All these pieces of information will help you better determine exactly where the competition is coming from. An analysis Your next step is to create your own competitive analysis. Such an analysis will vary, depending on your business type and your personal marketing situation and plans; however, most do have several common underlying factors. Find out what the general nature of your competition is and what draws consumers to choose them over similar businesses. What is it that makes people choose them? Do they offer stellar rates and service or are people drawn to them for their visual presence and reputation? Is your competition established in one part of the city, but not another? Do they operate locally or are they international? Does word of mouth go far in this type of business? These types of questions can easily be answered, depending on the business. Ecommerce, for example, rely heavily on updated products ranges in their catalogue, price and service along with positive published reviews. Do customers prefer particular online stores because they have more range, offer free delivery or offer a free returns policy? Many other types of businesses, such as professional services, for example, rely heavily on word of mouth for customers. Although online reviews do have some influence, local people tend to prefer positive referrals and references when it comes to things such as fair priced lawyers and skilled, knowledgeable doctors. You can also apply this thinking to other forms of businesses. What makes people choose a multi national coffee shop over a quaint, locally owned one? Why do some choose a iPhone over an Samsung phone or one internet service provider over another? Placing your potential business in these situations will help you when it comes to successfully marketing your brand and understanding the competition. Questions to ask yourself Take a moment to sit back and compare your product or service to those offered by your competitors. Why do you feel you rank against them and why? Your management team vs the competition. Find out who your competitions key management team are, where have they come from and experience they bring, what they seem to be doing differently now. Financial strength, does your competition have major investors that have the ability to scale their business to another level, if not could this be your differentiator if you have a superior product and service that will attract investors. Technology, do you or your competition have an advantage here such as patents that could raise a high barrier or particular suppliers that have partnered with you exclusively. Prices, do you offer more discounts or better services for less money? Perhaps you have a better selection of products than that of your competitors, thereby attracting more customers. Utilise all your creative skills and talent; you may think yourself devoid of such things, but we all have them. Decide what your best skills are and put them to the test when it comes to attracting new customers. Offering a service at a more economical rate is a skill and could very well be the one that hits your competition where they least expect it. Think of companies such as Dell, which offered great computers for prices well below their competitors or the hundreds of $1 shops you see in shopping centres. They too offer useful products for a fraction of the price of their competitors. Never underestimate the value of a good deal. This is the time to put all your great skills to use and understand where you are in the market. Once you have discovered what makes consumers choose your competitors, take the time to find out what makes them choose your products. Compare what you can and be the company that offers something different.
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