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transcend the competition. Are you slugging it out with the competition?
20 June 2014

Are You Slugging It Out With The Competition? 5 Strategies to Transcend Your Competitors.

Are you bumping up against the same competitors for business? Is there someone new popping up in your industry every month? Are you losing business to your competition? {As opposed to losing business to Apathy – that’s for another blog.}

Whether my product was Flowers, Print on Paper, Business Cards, Office Space or Consulting Services, when any one asks me who my “Competition” is, my answer has always been the same, “I don’t have any competition.” And it’s true – NO ONE delivers the same RESULTS that I do.

If you focus on features and having more features or better features than you competitor, you’re telling your customers to line up their options side by side and check the boxes to make their buying decisions.

If you focus on the results you deliver and how your customer values those results, you’re creating a category of one – your own unique position – there is no comparison to the competition.

Need some ideas on how to move away from features and price? Here are 5 strategies to Transcend the Competition that have nothing to do with more features or price –

  1. Solve the bigger problem.Is there more to what your customer thinks they need? When I was in the b2b Print Division for a large Retail Corporation, there were dozens of other providers that were competitive in pricing, execution and capabilities. Black and white ink on 8 ½” x 11” paper is pretty hard to “un-commoditize”. So, when one of my clients requested a quote for printed and laminated posters labeled “New Labor Laws”, I requested a meeting to dig deeper into the project. Their perceived problem was that they needed a cheaper price on printing Labor Law Posters for their 100 fast food locations throughout 8 states. Asking a few more questions, I discovered their problem is that all 8 states have different laws in addition to the national laws and they are updated often. They believed they needed a cheaper price to offset the costs of replacing the whole sheet of posters and the costs of shipping these poster tubes out frequently. I took the problem to my production team and we came up with a solution to put the posters on individual sheets on an “O” ring that could be opened. We’d only print and laminate the new poster sheets needed and distribute to each location with instructions as to which sheets to replace – instead of tossing the whole poster and starting over and shipping in the expensive poster tubes. The cost savings was about $2,800 by simply changing the process {which, of course, I calculated for them}. Stepping back and understanding the bigger problem created a better solution – which built incredible loyalty and this customer invited me in to be more Partner than Vendor. The customer then really opened up and let us explore what other problems we could solve and ultimately, I earned all their digital print business. Solving their bigger problem meant cost savings for them and a loyal, partner position for me.
  2. Be More YOU.
    Instead of focusing on what you do better than the competition, can you focus on how you’re different? We’re smart, modern consumers. If we know two items are equal, it is of benefit to us to choose the lower price option as saving money increases the value of that item. However, if you’re pointing your prospective customers to focus on the differences, they will choose the differentiating factor that best suits them – making price potentially secondary to features. If you’re a salad dressing much like the other salad dressing on the shelf next to you but you give a percentage of your proceeds to charity – THAT is a differentiating factor that can compel consumers to choose your product over others as it speaks to their nurturing, philanthropic values. Being more YOU can also be about your knowledge and expertise. Becoming a vocal champion or specialist in your industry makes you a customer magnet {OH boy does it – we’ll be sharing more with about Expertise later – stay tuned to the blog}. Look to your products, processes and people to highlight and emphasize and vocalize your differences.
  3. Rise above the Status Quo.
    If you study the competition and there is little differentiation between what results you can deliver, there is still always opportunity to do something better. If the product results are similar, can you create better experiences? Make the delivery more personal? Create a follow up sequence that surprises and delights customers?  Thank them and reward them for their purchases and loyalty? Start with one place to demonstrate more extraordinary service and rise above what’s standard from your competitors.
  4. Help your customers get customers.
    Much like solving a bigger problem, positioning yourself to help your customers get customers by leveraging you, your products or services makes you a linchpin and an invaluable asset to their business. For example, if you’re a flooring distributor and sell to builders, designers and installers – installers, which are the most price sensitive of your customers – what can you do to build loyalty and offset some of the price sensitivity? What if you provided high end business cards to the installers – {with your featured product logo, of course}? Or better yet, what about the business cards and a simple landing page so the installers have a web presence so customers can find them?  Think about your customers’ customers. What assets can you provide to help them do more business and build a strong partnership? You can get creative and leverage your knowledge, resources, connections and product to become a valued partner instead of a vendor or supplier like the rest of your competition.
  5. Do something new.
    Innovating or investing in new technology – efforts focused on improving customer experiences and results and meet additional needs – position you with several competitive advantages.

    1. Asking customers how you can improve service/experience/product – shows them that you value their opinions. It could mean offering extended service hours, online payments, new flavors, packaging products, or something as simple as better instructions. Ask and implement and those customers will return and be your best brand advocates.
    2. Introducing new things gives you the perfect opportunity to reach out to your customers and prospects and educate them about what’s new in your business. “New XYZ” can be a touch point to ask customers about what’s new in their business {new problems, needs, et cetera}.
    3. New technology or processes can increase response times, production times, reduce errors or improve customer support – all things which you can emphasize that differentiate you from the competition.


Competition is a good thing – especially if you know how to handle it, get out in front of it, keep changing the game and rise above it.

Until next time, keep kickin’ butt.

-sks

Hungry for more ways to handle the competition? 

Reduce Competition in Business

Neutralize Competitive Forces {Like a Total Boss}

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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