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Learning from competitors, especially successful businesses in your niche can help you improve your performance and take advantage of their weaknesses.
No matter what type of business you are in, you can greatly improve your product and service offerings if you understand who your competitors are and how they are connecting with customers.
Here are a few things that you can learn from competition and use to your advantage.
(If you are a woman running a business, you should be there at the upcoming Women’s Web #BreakingBarriers to Business Growth event. We will be learning and networking in a supportive atmosphere, with a star panel of speakers and coaches to share with us their growth journeys, and learnings on powering your venture ahead. While the event is being held in Mumbai and Bangalore, get yourself a “virtual seat” pass to get all the learning right at your desk, if you are not based in these cities. This event is being powered by Payumoney, which provides state-of-the-art payment gateway solutions to online businesses through its cutting-edge and award winning technology.)
No business can hide their marketing efforts. Closely watch your competitor’s marketing campaigns online and off-line. Today, businesses have no choice but to be online and engage with their customers. Keep an eye on their social media profiles on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter etc. Are they advertising there? How deeply are they engaging with their followers and fans? How often do you find their name in the local newspaper or magazine?
Figuring out what marketing campaigns work for your competitors will help you decide on whether to follow the same strategy or try something completely innovative.
Make a list of all the products available in the market that are comparable to yours, and study their price structure. Are they priced in the same range as yours or are there significant variations? Why? Do their products have more features that command a better price? Are their products too cumbersome with unnecessary features? Looking at what the competitors charge will help you discover the price that customers are willing to pay and make a call on whether you must compete on price.
It is relatively easy nowadays to find out what customers think about a particular company or brand. Google “brand name review” and you will see several relevant search results. Google Places reviews can be an excellent source of information about what customers think about a business. Check your competitor’s social media channels. How well are they handling the complaints? Is their response time fast enough? Can you be a champion at customer service?
A competitive market analysis will help you identify the gaps that exist in the market. When you comb through customer reviews about your competitor’s products, you may find that they’re complaining about the unavailability of something simpler at a lower price. If you’re able to get a sense of what customers want which is currently not available and the price they are willing to pay for it, you have identified a new opportunity that you can exploit.
How are your competitors finding their employees? Are they placing recruitment ads in the newspaper or online? If you find an ad somewhere, study the skill sets that they’re looking for. You are likely to require the same skills sets for your employees too.
When you study the competition, you will find that some businesses are not as good as you while some others are way ahead, and this can vary depending on the aspect you are studying. Study the better performing businesses and identify what works for them. Then figure out a way to do it better.
There is just one simple secret to using competition to your advantage: figure out what works and do it better. If something doesn’t work, avoid doing that. Rinse and repeat.
Growth concept image via Shutterstock
Nisha Salim is a self-employed writer and a social media junkie.
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