If you want to dominate the market and win, one of the most vital things to do is to tangibly define your distinctive business proposition.
Make sure that you give your customers good reasons to come to you rather than your competitors. Your unique selling proposition should be obvious – no one should have to ask.
However, where little distinguishes your product or service from your competition, as a business leader you need to make sure that your core processes and strategy set you apart from the rest.
What other ways can you stay ahead of the competition?
- Know your competition
Unless you take time to really study and monitor your competitors you don’t know what your differentiators are – what makes a customer choose you and not your competitor? (or vice versa!)
Knowing your competition inside out helps you:
- Understand what your competitive advantages are
- Understand and therefore target the marketplace
- Design your strategy accordingly
- Test and experiment
Beat your competitors to it. While they are spending time and money, get out into the marketplace and do it. Take action and test the water and monitor the results. It’s important to calculate before making a huge decision but just don’t let guesswork create procrastination and stop you from being productive.
- Assess your daily routine
Keep on top of analysing your results as a routine, so that you can better predict possible future trends, be aware of tiny changes and ripples and be ahead of the competition. Vivek Chadha of Nine Group, who owns and operates hotels in London and in major cities around the UK with phenomenal success, says:
‘Before I eat my breakfast, I know exactly how each and every hotel in the group performed the previous night from its average daily rate to total occupancy. I also look at weekly and monthly forecasts to ensure we are on track to hit our annual budgets. I review the progress of our new developments every day to ensure we will open our hotels on time.’
Have a clear idea of where you want your business to be in the future. If you plan for growth you will be more successful than those that are happy treading water. Have weekly meetings where you discuss new technology and the latest developments in your sector.
- Don’t become predictable
It is important to ring the changes to keep your competition on their toes. If you repeat the same old techniques and marketing ploys, your competitor will predict your moves and you will become and easy target. Forget about ‘what is’ and focus on ‘what could be’. Regular mix-ups are part of business success.
- Look for repetitive behaviour in your competitors
Study your competitors moves and get there first. Concentrate certain actions within your business plan with the aim of ruffling their feathers. Understanding how your competitors will react to your actions should also be an important part of strategic decision making. Make sure that you ask these questions:
- Will the competitor react?
- What alternatives will the competitor see?
- Which option will the competitor choose?
- Fringe competitors
Focus all your energy on your main competitor at your peril! Keep a watch on the fringe competitors too. Pay particular attention to small startups which are growing rapidly. Startups often have the technical edge and are often utilising new technology, creativity and innovation. Make sure that you think out of the box too.
- Become a disruptor
Don’t be afraid to uproot and ‘disrupt’ the way you do business sometimes. A lack of change can make a business become stagnant and lethargic. Continually look for ways to do something more efficiently. Set time and money aside to innovate within your business.
- Customer feedback isn’t always useful
Customers aren’t good at communicating why they are going to a competitor – they just go. They often aren’t able to articulate what they want. You can however guarantee that customers will want your product or service quicker, faster and cheaper.
- Don’t cost cut
While cost cutting can sometimes be necessary – avoid if if you can. It makes your business weaker and your competitors can take that opportunity to steal your customer. Cost cutting can give the impression of lower perceived value and untrustworthiness. Instead, focus on value, show confidence and prove what you are selling works.
- Ask for advice from a different perspective
Outside advice will see your business from a different angle – one that isn’t influenced with bias. An open minded business leader has a network outside the company from which to ask advice.
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Author: Matthew Foster