Going head to head with competitors is not necessarily a good way to win new customers.
Focus on and understand your customers better than your competitors
While all business functions are important, without good customers you have no business. Almost without exception, a customer will choose a business who can best fulfil their needs. Unfortunately, for many businesses, most of their competitors can do the same.
So to reduce the risk of a prospect choosing a competitor you will need to do things at least better and probably differently. Yes, you will need to have a competitive advantage.
Make no mistake, if you don’t put your customer, first there will be competitors who will.
Arguably the most important starting point is to take the time to really understand the customer’s problems, frustrations wants and needs in your chosen market segments.
Receive the right inputs into your business to make the right outputs
The sooner you open your mind to doing things differently for your customers and in line with their wants and needs, the sooner the doors will open the floodgates, probably like never before.
If you ensure you receive the right inputs of information and knowledge into your business you can make the right outputs to service you customers and keep giving them a good customer experience.
Over the years we have learned that businesses, non-profit organisations and communities are sick and tired of dealing with technology and other companies who don’t deliver the goods. Their actions don’t match their rhetoric. So if a customer chooses you, they can be quickly lost without the right outputs.
“No one cares about how good you are until after they know they can trust you”. Stefanie Flaxman
Grow faster by focusing on customers
Many of your bigger competitors or bigger corporations don’t even understand what a small business is yet they brag about how they help and support small businesses. You can capitalise on this by making your customer service processes squeaky clean and in alignment with your customers and your business aspirations.
Marketing people used to talk in terms of 400 different types of businesses, whereas there are actually tens of thousands of different types of business so there is no one size fits all. So never make the mistake of making all your processes like a sausage machine.
Each industry spends billions acquiring new customers using antiquated processes and methods. yet customer retention is what separates top performers from their competitors. If you focus on retaining and growing your customers, they will grow your business automatically.
Focus on your strengths and niches
If you think things are changing fast now, you haven’t seen anything as the rate of change is happening faster than you can think about what you want for breakfast. Forget the ‘commodities’, everybody is into them, find your niche products and services and focus your strengths on them.
There’s nothing more exciting than finding an underserved niche that represents a lucrative opportunity others have failed to find. And the beauty of being in business today is that you can easily open up markets anywhere in the world. You don’t have to rely on your local market to support you.
Instead of competing with older more established businesses, look to serve the wants and needs of underserved niches, or niches they don’t serve well. Make your products, services and customer segments different.
Targeting an underserved niche is a path that small start-up can easily take with good prospects of success. Even huge multi-nationals can’t offer everything to everyone. Why not become a thought leader in your chosen industry?
Finding a niche that is right for you can be difficult and sometimes take years to find. But by applying the attributes of an entrepreneur to new trends and issues you can certainly expect better outcomes than most people.
New ideas and opportunities can be exciting. It is inspiring and motivating to imagine what could be as you consider the possibilities of turning the right opportunity into a profitable and sustainable business.
Marketing automation is important
Marketing automation is critical in modern business along with content management as can deliver better customer service and better customer experience.
There are so many tasks to be completed along with a customer’s journey, that many find it impossible without many of them being automated. The problems arise when you don’t automate and your competitors do.
Much of your inbound marketing and marketing automation will be largely driven by improving the processes you use to manage from lead generation through to after sales service and beyond. And to be effective it must all be customer drive.
If you had trouble sleeping again last night, you might like to think about the following to put you to sleep:
- Nothing in life is free, you have to do the hard yards.
- You can’t do everything that is needed by tomorrow or even next year.
- You can do anything but if the customers don’t want it, then you don’t want it.
- Trading favours always pay off, look after the customer and they will look after you.
- Stop being preoccupied with what competitors are doing focus on your strengths.
- You will never understand everything by yourself so accept it and go to sleep.
While it’s natural to be concerned with what competitors are doing don’t let unnecessary ‘mind traffic’ ruin your sleep. Resolve to seek help in the morning.
Technology itself might be impressive but it doesn’t stand still
Your technology won’t impress the prospect, and even if it did, the majority of other competitor offerings on the web make the exact same claims.
Even though you may be superficially providing the same product or service as your competitor, your choice of processes can make all the difference. The secret lies in being able to crank up creative and innovative processes.
When you create a variety of content that helps your prospects with the issues they struggle with, the most important thing to remember is to make your content special and unique. The type that builds trust and produces a valuable, entertaining experience for your prospects and customers will far better outcomes.
“The great myth of our times is that technology is communication”. Libby Larsen
If a prospect can find what you offer on your competitor’s websites, you will fail to build trust over time. Your information and knowledge can give you an opportunity to enhance your offering with your point of view. When customers like your content they will share it and reach other people who you can’t and who are attracted to your style of operation.
Big Data, inbound marketing technologies, cloud technologies, social media, mobility, analytics and content marketing are all revolutionising the relationship between businesses, non-profit organisations, communities and advisors.
Value chains are changing dramatically with more and more suppliers and advisors being required to at least maintain a minimum level of customer services, never mind keeping up with what customers will be demanding in the future.
Many sensors will be introduced with the Internet of Things (IoT) along with improving telecommunications, which will be playing a bigger and bigger role in how we all do business.
If your competitors seem less interesting to prospects at this time, that’s great, but don’t sit back and think you have made it. Take the time to work on the next phase of continuous improvement.
Actions you can take
- Crank up your content marketing as it can do the heavy lifting for you.
- Focus on things that will build trust.
- Know what the customers want to hear, not what you think they want to hear.
- Customer relationship management systems are a critical component.
- Use a project management system to control things in a more timely manner.
- Build your resources so you become the customer’s go-to resource.
- Pay more attention to detail, that’s where the devil lives.
- Start today, tomorrow might be too late.
So, if a prospect chooses a competitor over your business, it’s likely because your competitor has revealed themselves to their audience in ways that you haven’t … yet.
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In my experience businesses who focus their technology purchases solely on lead generation, thinking about how it will grow their businesses faster, are running the risk of their prospects choosing a competitor.
While customer acquisition is a clear part of profitable revenue growth, their first thoughts really focus on their processes and how they can improve their customer experience and overall customer experience if they are to retain good customers.
Being less obvious to many, but is critically important in the driving of customer acquisition and retention, is measuring the reliability and quality of the processes being used by various competitors. Each competitor will have its own way of measuring and using modern analytics to support their problem-solving and decision-making about the marketing efforts.
There are so many things to consider in the customer journey. So, once you have invested the time and money in new systems and processes to acquire a new customer, you lose out on their full revenue potential if they are not serviced better than your competitors.