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  • Writer's pictureNat Sharp

5 ways to keep ahead of your competitors

Hot air balloons at sunrise

We all recognise how the world of business can be so unpredictable and operating in a global pandemic has put all of us to the test. Competition can be intense at the best of times. And who knows where we will be in five years. But, never give up hope or think you can't compete against some of the major players.

We've outlined some areas of activity which can deliver real impact and give you that winning edge. And, they can be done without spending a penny if you have the resources and expertise in-house.

Here are some pointers to help.

1. Develop a true niche

Window with a wonky blind

There are a number of ways you can do this. The most obvious way is to develop a unique product that no one else is offering. Sounds simple. You've probably sat around the dinner table with friends and come up with new product ideas that you think haven't been explored before. You may have the most amazing idea, but in order to survive there needs to be enough demand for it and you need to be able to make a profit.

The other route is to launch a product or service in a niche market. By the very nature of the term 'niche', this market could be very small. However, that isn't to say that this shouldn't be explored. We've worked with clients that have been able to do this successfully and never looked back.

What lies at the heart of both routes is robust market research as we go on to discuss below.

2. Invest in market research

Market research can help in so many ways from benchmarking your business against your competitors to discovering new industry trends. A thorough competitor audit is typically how we start working with a client when developing a marketing strategy. Always remember you are not your typical customer. There is nothing more insightful than asking customers what are their motivations, needs and pain points. You might be surprised at what they have to say. When you have this information you can develop customer personas.

In a nutshell market research will allow you to make informed business decisions as opposed to making knee jerk reactions or assumptions to help shape your offering and give you that edge, mitigating risk.

3. Step up your customer service

Waiter serving a drink in the mountains

Offering outstanding customer service makes good business sense. It is always rewarding to have customers that truly value what you do for them and build strong relationships with them. But even better, if they believe you provide exceptional customer service and have a high quality product that delivers, they will become become brand advocates.

Ensure you capture customer feedback and ask how you are performing. There are always ways you can improve customer satisfaction and your customers are best placed to advise how.

4. Fully exploit search engine optimisation

Forrester research shows 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine so getting to that first page of Google must be a priority for businesses. HubSpot claims 75% of users never view past the first page of search. And you can do it with a bit of patience and perseverance.

First and foremost, ensure you are registered with Google Business Profile. This is a free local listings service which helps you be found online. You can also register for other free directory listings.

Don't forget your website needs to be fully optimised too. Remember to be patient with any search engine optimisation work. It can take months to start seeing the results.

5. Generate thought leadership

Thought leadership is particularly powerful in business to business due to the complexity of the decision-making process. According to research by Edelman and Linked In, nearly half of business decision-makers said thought leadership has directly led them to award business to an organisation. It also has tremendous PR value.

We all have knowledge, experience and a point of view that can be relevant so why not leverage this and start by providing tips on hot topics you are an expert in and that your audience would like to know more about.

You could demonstrate this expertise by speaking at events and conferences, creating a podcast, and engaging on social media and blogs. Videos are a highly effective way to get noticed and can have a big viral impact.

Keep going forwards

So now you know how to make a real impact, go on and give it a go. Maybe you can enhance your customer service, or you re-assert your niche. Either way you’ll be taking control of the elements that make you stand out from the crowd.

By carving a new road map for your business you can have the confidence to compete at a new found level of excellence.

Discover more tips on how to develop the perfect sales pitch, how to create a sales strategy and to refresh your website.

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