Get to Know Your Competition. Know thy enemy.
It is not uncommon for the online competition to be different from the brick-and-mortar competition. We believe that competitive intelligence (CI) should have a single-minded objective -- to develop the strategies and tactics necessary to transfer market share profitably and consistently from specific competitors to our clients. CI can help position a business to maximize the value of the capabilities that distinguish it from its competitors. A company that does not monitor and analyze their primary competitors will be at a disadvantage leaving its markets vulnerable.
One writer, philosopher once said that for you to be competitive and even rise above the pack, you need to know your competition and what they're doing to be different. When you do, you'll surely be able to create tactics that will make you stand out and hence, make a difference in your market share.
I suppose you think that the business community is very hard to be a part of because you're always competing and trying to outdo each other. Believe it or not, business is not about that. On the contrary, it's not a blood bath all the time. In fact, business owners and marketers do it in a more classy and comfortable arena where they often work together to make their community work.
But no doubt about it, competition is present. And the best way to differentiate yourself from the rest is an analysis of what your competition is doing to become successful. Here's what you should know when gathering competitive intelligence for your marketing research:
Step 1: Be a detective.
Competitive analysis is all about gathering the tools and materials your competitors must market their products and services. Examine their features, the design, and even the commercial color printing method used to come up with an effective marketing campaign. One marketer even suggested shopping and purchasing from your competitors to learn and experience what it feels like to buy from them.
Step 2: Identify and analyze even those you feel are competitors.
Chances are you're right. Even in the most unlikely places, you might just be surprised that a competition is present. So be on the lookout for marketing tools and materials of any businesses that you perceive to be providing the same services as you do.
Step 3: Analyze the message.
After you've collected the materials, focus on the message of your competitors. What are their promises? Do they have anything different to offer? Do we have anything in common? What formats did they use? Is the design effective? What seems to be the best marketing tool in all that you've collected?
Step 4: How can you be unique?
Finally, after gathering all the information from your competitors' marketing materials and tools, it's now time for you to create your own marketing campaign that reflects something unique and compelling in your offer. When you do find your answers, be sure to include every factor that can contribute to your success – your products and services, your operating method, your unique company qualities and customer service attitude, your values, etc. Whatever you learned from your competitive analysis can help you create powerful marketing campaigns that will help you more effectively sell your products and services to your target audience.
Whatever you do in business, do it big! There’s no other arena in which those words are truer than the internet. It’s a competitive world wide web, and you do have to find your niche. However, once you find that niche, do it just a little bit different from everybody else. Do it big. People don’t often think in those terms. Therefore, if you are able to put yourself in that mindset, then you’ll be ahead of the pack.
You can struggle all you want trying to get your website to the top of the search engines, but by the time you get there, the rules for getting there will have changed. You can spend countless hours trading links with other websites, but you’ll find that many of those will soon ditch their domain. You may consider any number of online strategies for getting your website noticed, but the bottom line is somebody on the other end always wants to get paid. This is when the idea of “do it big” comes into play. Let me explain.
I recently discovered a website owned by a woman from the UK. Her product was original art. Specifically, cartoon-like pencil sketches. Her intention was to put her work on shirts, stationary, and greeting cards and to sell it through her website. The problem was she couldn’t get her site noticed. She had no visitors. How many times have you lamented over the lack of visitors to your site? I have, and I do. It doesn’t matter how many visitors a site receives. It never seems to be enough. We are insatiable. Nevertheless, you can struggle with online strategies, or you can do something big offline.
Here’s what I suggested to the woman from the UK. Start a campaign. Call it the “loan a shirt” campaign or something of that nature. The idea would be to take a shirt featuring the artwork, and send it around the world. How? She or somebody else would wear it for a day and then pass it on to another person who would do the same. This would continue for any duration of time. But the goal would be to send the shirt around the world, and each person who wore the shirt for a day could log on to the site if they choose and fill out a quick location form so the shirt may be tracked.
It’s such a simple, low-cost idea, but it’s a creative way to expose a website as the address would be listed right there on the shirt. In addition, people who wore the shirt for a day would get to see and sample the product first hand. It could even be an event for charity, and an effective press release would be the only invitation the media would need to get involved. However, what if somebody decided not to pass the shirt on? What if somebody stole it? What if the shirt got lost? What if “this”, and what if “that”?Hey, what if it worked? What did it cost? Nothing. It only required a little creative thinking. A person could do anything they wanted with the idea in order to eliminate every negative “what if”.
The point I’m trying to make is we don’t often think of doing something big offline to promote ourselves online. Moreover, it doesn’t have to be costly. It doesn’t have to even follow what we believe to be the traditional rules of advertising. Just think big, do it big, and get noticed. After all, isn’t that the goal? Or is the goal simply to advertise?
Realizing success is not about having the best technology or being the smartest or even about having the best customer service (although none of these could hurt). More today than ever before, success is now measured in speed. It is about effectively executing in an ever-evolving world where everything changes so rapidly – and that applies to any business.
Today is a world surrounded by buyers who want it now, want perfection and exceptional service. To succeed online, your business needs to be organized and able to handle the increased business your website is going to generate.
Here are some methods for building a business that maximizes speed with a sense of urgency and, operational efficiency - gain the competitive advantage:
Run Your Business with Speed and Urgency. It’s a new phenomenon called “Internet time”; it’s a 24/7 hyper-connected “always-on” global market. This means if your business is not moving ahead 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you’re putting the business at risk.
Internet time means not only doing business quickly, but, also doing it anytime the customer wants and for as long as the customer wants it done. This is what customers demand, and what every company doing business online needs to embrace. The result is a business that is always working, always aware of potential business, one that is always one call, real time chat, email, and more - never disconnected from the customer.
Having effective meetings means having short meetings. Meetings are the annoyance of many employees at the workplace. They involve too little meaningful discussion, take up too much time, little gets accomplished, people ramble on too much, and respect and open discussion are often not granted. Meetings though are imperative, but the way in which they are run can be optimized to meet key business objectives.
Because the Internet world moves so fast, companies doing business online cannot afford to have unproductive meetings. First set some genuine detail-oriented goals for the meeting. Let people have the option of attending, especially if the issues discussed have nothing to do with them. Start and end your meetings on time and stay within thirty minutes to one hour. Have two or three shorter meetings throughout the day, with short goals to be accomplished by the next meeting. Furthermore, don’t bore people with anything not on the agenda. Lastly, make the meetings enjoyable; use skits, slideshows, charts, even puppets to get your point across. These moments will likely stick in employee’s heads over the long, drawn-out boring ones.
Email several times a day. In the Internet world, CEOs and employees alike use technology to supercharge productivity. With all the cell phones, laptops, tablets, personal organizers and more, email is the most valuable tool. Set up email power sessions with employees; it allows for communication with many employees at the same time and resolves any issues fast. With an email message, you are ensuring your message gets delivered to all the right people exactly how you wanted to say it, without the hassle of playing phone tag with employees or risk miscommunication and misunderstanding.
Brand matters on the Internet. If your business is going to succeed in the new world of business, you will not only need to capture market share, but also work on improving customer relationships to minimize customer attrition while upselling and cross selling your products or services.
Whenever your prospective customers or customers need your products or services, where will they go online? Which Web site will they choose first? Will it be yours?
Some tips to increase your business brand online include discovering an effective way to position yourself as being unique from your competitors. Create the right image and be sure you continue to reinforce that brand image in everything your company does online and offline.
Increase the number of online visitors to your website through a variety of Internet marketing strategies. Even if your business only sells locally, do not be afraid to think and market yourself internationally on the Internet. Remember the importance of earning your customers trust too.
Never dismiss the power (opportunity) of feedback.
Ask your customers for feedback, through emails, surveyed phone calls, and feedback forms on your Web site, case studies and letters. Ask for feedback often, whenever you are testing out a new product, reviewing sales on an existing product or service, or simply because you want to know how your customers feel about your company. Don’t neglect receiving feedback from your employees too; they know your business too because they work with you.
Most importantly, have fun! Create a work environment and a healthy business culture where your employees feel free to mix a little fun into their daily routines and express themselves comfortably. After all, a happy employee is more likely to be a productive member of the organization - increasing business value and valuation.
Let your employees know they are appreciated and needed. Empower your trusted employees to make decisions without involving three layers of management.
The new world of business is about building a more productive business environment through increased communication, greater convenience, personal enjoyment, empowerment, and access to mission critical information. How does your business measure up online? Call Us 484-324-8890.