Staying ahead of the competition can be a tall order. But it is a must if you plan to be the best in your field. Staying ahead of your competition takes work, but it’s easier with a few tips from our roundtable of experts. We asked them a few questions.
TNJ.com: What are some overlooked ways to beat your competition?
Don’t be intimidated by the competition. “Competition is everywhere–especially with the ever and fast growing world that is the Internet. Competition you never had before down the street, let alone on the other side of the planet, is suddenly coming out in droves to stake their claim in your industry, and while that sounds scary, it’s really easy to quickly assess and prioritize the tasks and needs to compete,” notes Patrick Delehanty, a Digital Marketing Specialist with Marcel Digital. “There are a million opportunities to engage in conversation on social media, offer deals or sales, and ask for feedback on products/how you can improve. There are groups you can join via LinkedIn and Google+ to offer your insights and solutions, and not to mention, fantastic search capabilities to find the right conversations fast. This is a fantastic way to beat out your conversation. Remember, people like people, not brands. If they feel they are getting a response from a human voice, they will stick with you.”
TNJ.com: Should you always be concerned with what your competition is doing?
Keep an eye out. “You should always be concerned with your competition; they are the ones that can beat you out of business, but remember, what works for your competition may not work for you. It’s not a matter of copying competition or focusing on what’s working for them, but how what’s working for them can be tweaked or enhanced for your audience,” says Delehanty.
Keep informed. “You should always be aware of your competition rather than be concerned about them. You should always be aware of their every move. First, if you build a competitive intelligence component in your company, you should never be concerned about your competition because you already know what they’re up to. This can help you with a counter-strategy against your competition,” says D. Anthony Miles, CEO and founder of Miles Development Industries Corporation, a consulting practice and venture capital acquisition firm. “Second, you must scan your industry and market sector to see any changes that will affect you and your product/service. You should never be surprised because your scan will inform you of any industry changes and paradigm shifts.”
No “Monkey see, monkey do.” “Sometimes, being too concerned with competition leads to replication. Chart the uncharted waters and you shall reap the benefits,” Noel Kitonga, Creative Director at Dynamatics Advertising and Branding. “If you want to stay ahead of the competition, always innovate. Once you launch a product, it’s already an old product at that instance, so think ahead.”
TNJ.com: What are some tips to staying ahead of your competition?
Use the three “Es.” “Empower. Engage. Embrace,” suggests Delehanty. “Empower your employees to engage your audience in conversations and flex their expertise. Allow them to write content or join in on social media and offer solutions. Every employee is a resource for content and expertise–from your customer service representative to your CEO. Utilize them. And finally, embrace change as it happens. If you’re a company that’s not willing to change or update its strategy and approaches, you’ll be left behind. Change isn’t a bad thing; it’s a new opportunity to be creative and effective in the areas that matter most for the present moments.”
Stand out. “Go niche, then go broad within your specialism. There is no point in trying to be Tesco. Pick a few things in one category and do them damn well,” advises Kitonga. “Talk with and to the customers. Have your ideal customer in mind then talk to them; you shall win over your competition. And, avoid price wars; they’re the least important element of product or service. Think in the lines of reliability, friendliness, no frills services and you shall win.”
Follow the money. “Know where they’re spending marketing dollars and who they’re targeting, and either target the people they’re missing, or beat them at their own game with more modern marketing techniques,” suggests Landon Ledford, principal of Double L Brands and co-founder of InstaHype. “While the competition focuses on direct ads to consumers, you can instead put some of your resources toward becoming the ‘thought leader’ in your industry — when people think of that industry moving forward, they won’t think about the competition’s ad, but will remember your infographic that educated them.”
Be informed. “Develop a competitive intelligence model and infrastructure within your organization. One of the most overlooked issues in dealing with the competition and industry is the lack of competitive intelligence. You have to monitor your top five leading industry competitors and build a dossier on them. By doing this, you can make adjustments to your strategy and perfect it. This is an overlooked tactic many firms fail to do,” says Miles. “Constantly scan your industry for new entrants and paradigm shifts in the industry. You have to know your industry better than your competition. Also, reinvent your product and services by finding hidden markets. Depending on where you are in the product life cycle, there are always hidden markets that you can exploit. Your competition can’t be all things to all people. Use this to your advantage.”