Any business adviser worth their salt will tell you that the key to entrepreneurial success lies in how well you understand your customer.
But perhaps even more critical to this for a business-owner, says Kobus Engelbrecht, Head of Marketing for Sanlam Business Market South Africa, is understanding your competitive landscape and how your target market responds to other businesses that provide similar services.
Understanding what your competitors are doing will enable you to position your unique selling proposition to plug gaps in the market.
These seven strategies will help you understand the competition:
- Identify your main competitors: There is no one-fit formula for this; it is a case of knowing your industry and using all possible resources to extract information.
- Find out everything you can about the competition: Understand each competitor’s offering, benefits and USPs.
- Don’t underestimate industry newcomers: You run the risk of being blindsided if you have the mistaken belief that new players can’t and won’t disrupt your business.
- Take every opportunity to network: Networking is as much about identifying your competitors as it is about finding complementary ways to leverage off other people’s strengths and connections.
- If your competitor is outperforming your business, ask why: If you’re losing customers to the competition, take a deep look at your business strategy from a client’s perspective and ask what barriers are preventing your growth.
- Make decisions that make sense for your business: While it is all very well to copy the competition, the decisions you make need to benefit your business. For example, a competitor’s pricing model may not work for you.
- Consider the industry: Your industry plays a part in determining your competitive edge, but there are some general ways to boost all companies’ market visibility, including social media, a user-friendly, modern website and SEO strategy for improved Google rankings.