“When you are your most authentic self, the competition becomes irrelevant.” – Pinterest
While the title may sound harsh, but in today’s cutthroat business environment, the only way to ensure survival is by making your competitors irrelevant by capturing the attention and love of their customers. Of course, this may not be easy and would require persistence, strategy, and laser-like focus to prove that your company is better and worth their investment of time, money, and effort. Proving your company’s worth is possible only through understanding your potential customers – everything about them that makes them who they are and what makes their business run. If a customer decides to switch from a competitor, it is obvious that they do so because the products and service of the competitor did not match up to their expectations and did not help the customers achieve their goals. While this is a great opportunity to prove your company’s mettle, it can also prove to be a significant challenge since your company would first need to help customers do away with any potential apprehensions, and only then would they be amenable to look at the solutions your company provides.
In order to make your competitors irrelevant it would be necessary to use every opportunity to understand customers, track what they expect to achieve by associating with a company, and know what would help them to achieve their short and long-term business goals. Once your company is able to do this successfully and consistently, customers would be able to perceive benefit in associating with your company instead, and would even be willing to cooperate and do things in a certain way to help their business and that of your company’s to reach their goals. It would be important also, to set realistic expectations with these ‘stolen’ customers (especially because they may feel let down from the experience with the competitor, and would probably have higher than normal expectations when associating with a new company) such that they would know what your company can and cannot deliver. If your company is able to manage the ‘transition’ well, these customers might stay long enough to become exceedingly loyal and profitable, while encouraging their associates and friends too, to do business with your company.
As mentioned, in today’s business environment, one of the top ways, especially for small businesses, to grow and capture market share is by luring away customers thereby making their competitors irrelevant. The best customers to ‘target’ would be the ones already displeased or frustrated with their current business partner company – the vendor / service provider. In addition, aim to go after businesses that may be struggling in the market and unable to sustain their profits – by showing them how your business and offerings can help grow their profits, you would be sure to get them to break away from your competitor and engage with your business, thereby rending your competitors irrelevant to some extent. The fact is that if customers came on their own volition, eager to leave a competitor, it is unlikely that a company would refuse their business – the same would be true of your competitors too.
As mentioned several times, landing new customers is not one of the easiest tasks that a company faces, especially given the many ruthless competitors in the market today. It would be prudent for a company to remain alert and aware of the ‘talks’ and happenings within its industry and related ones. Attending and organising events would help to learn new things, gain valuable information, understand what makes customers stay with a company, and which customers are most likely to switch and why. It would also be prudent to remain ‘secretive’ about your company’s strategies – news travels fast within industry circles. Remember also that outsmarting or making competitors irrelevant is not a thought that would have crossed your mind alone, and every business has the right to care for itself.
We had discussed in a previous exposition that it is necessary to keep a ‘finger on the pulse of your competitors’. Doing this means reading up about them, learning as much as possible about their leadership, and understanding their culture and core strategies. The good news is that with social media pages and online presence now a common practice, it is simpler to gain detailed information about a competitor. Their online presence would mention their customers and industry contacts. There could be overlaps, but if not, it would be prudent to reach out to these ‘contacts’ and endeavour to make them part of your company’s contacts too, and then make every effort to show them why associating with your company instead is a better idea. The same would be true of social media pages – make a thorough search of which contacts and customers seem to be commenting and sharing, and which ones seem most respected. Start out by appreciating and sharing their comments – get them to notice your company – it would be a lot easier to get them to listen and understand the USP of your company.
As mentioned, it is not easy to lure customers or make competitors irrelevant by gaining their market share. A company would need to think of unique strategies to do so. Start by being different – operate on days and hours that your competitors would not be operational, run advertising and promotional campaigns targeted at potential customers who may have just left your competitor or would be on the verge of doing so, offer attractive schemes/ discounts for the ‘early lucky few’, and other such astute yet highly effective tactics. After all neither are customers easily waylaid, and nor do competitors let go of their hard-earned business easily.
Customers – all of them – deserve to be treated as celebrities. They expect courteous and special treatment irrespective of their length of association with a company. This is especially true of long-standing customers (most companies tend to ignore customers once they become loyal and profitable). Potential customers that may still be with a competitor, must definitely be afforded red carpet treatment, simply because they are probably not receiving the kind of special treatment as they would want from their current company. Wherever possible engage with them, offer them special discounts, free services, invite them to events and lunches, and do whatever possible to build a relationship and form a personal rapport with them. The more personalization and value they can see outside of a business association, the more likely it is that they would want to associate for business too, and or encourage their associates to do so too.
One of the top ways to make your competitors irrelevant is by showing your uniqueness and strengths. Never shy away from advertising and broadcasting the differences that would make your company appear better and stronger. It is necessary to stand out, given the highly crowded marketplace, and unless a company can show potential customers how it is better and different, it would be unable to gain new customers, much less ‘steal’ them from a competitor.
Depending on your company, competitors, and customers, you would need to decide which strategy would work best to gain an upper hand and make your competitors irrelevant. In order to make money, you would need to invest some as also other resources. Attracting new customers from the market or luring them away from your competitor is all about offering them experiences, products, and customer service that would be significantly better than the competition, and all of this advertising and promotion would require investment. However, the high ROI and market share would be worth all of it. The added bonus – you get to make your competitors irrelevant.