Even if your business is locally based in a small area, you will have competitors. So how do you turn the tables on well-known and long-established rivals that you may have to compete with?
Become a specialist
Depending on the type of business you are running, you may not need a lot of customers to generate a good income, if this is the case then it means you could concentrate on providing a specialist service to your target audience; adopting this strategy could help you stand out from the crowd.
For example you could be the only ‘Hand-made chocolate shop in your town, using only the best organic ingredients to make your sweet creations.'
The key element of this strategy is to offer 'a special something' that makes you rise above' your competition. This brings me on to the next point…
Standing Out with a Great Website
Before you even start your business you will need to do your homework on the local competition, and most of all you will need to check out how strong their online presence is? This means more than just checking their websites, it also means seeing where they appear on Google when you put in a search term that your prospective customers might use (i.e. chocolate shop any town).
In all likelihood, your competitors have been in business for a few years, this gives them an advantage in they are already established; but have they become complacent? Did they set up their website at the start of their business? Is it looking a bit 'old' and 'tired' now? These are the questions you need to ask yourself. Often, researching your rivals this way will uncover opportunities to make a great first impression with a simple, attractive and easy-to-use website - first impressions are everything in acquiring new customers.
Your competition may be able to get away with a shoddy website (for a while) but you can’t afford to. Stand out with a great looking website. It’s the first place a customer will look to find you.
Be a Professional
Often you might come across competitors who don’t take their business or their customers seriously. They don’t behave in a professional way. Now, putting yourself in a customer's shoes, if you are considering paying for a service or a product from a local supplier – it is pretty obvious that you would only go to a company you felt you could trust to offer a good service or product – being professional in all aspects of your business helps build that trust.
Here are a few things you can do to show you are a professional:
- Always be on time for meetings with your customers – nothing signals ‘unprofessional’ more than turning up late.
- Attend any courses or seminars that you feel are appropriate to help develop your abilities – be seen as an expert in your field.
- If you can, join a local business organisation or group , such as the local Chamber of Commerce. Display their logo on your stationery/website if you can – this lends credibility to your company.
When researching the competition look for what they are doing right, but also look for what they have ‘missed’, that missing element might be just the differentiator you need.