Edge Out Your Competition in the Highly Competitive Markets of 2015
Online and off, competition is fierce. Consumers are holding onto their money more carefully. In order to thrive in this highly competitive market it is critically important that you find and hone your edge. How can you do it?
Here are some strategies for you to consider as you plan for marketing and sales success in 2015:
Narrow Your Focus
Trying to be all things to all people does one thing – it increases your competition. Specializing, on the other hand, narrows your competition. Rather than being seen as a Jack-of-all-Trades, you become know as a specialist, and it allows you to focus on being the best at what you do. For example, instead of offering information products on how to care for your pet, you might specialize in how to care for your aging dog. Narrowing your focus, or niche marketing, can virtually eliminate your competition.
ACTION ITEM: Take a look at your existing client list and try to find the pattern/similarities in your BEST customers. Develop a niche marketing strategy that speaks to them.
Offer products, information, and resources that make you invaluable to your audience. When planning your business, ask yourself these questions – what can I do to deliver more value to my audience? How much more, and what, can I give them?
ACTION ITEM: Take a ‘client-first’ approach to all of your marketing activities; you have to know your audience well to build your perceived value.
You cannot be boring in this competitive market and survive. Now that doesn’t mean you have to be over the top either. Instead, be yourself. Capture the interest of your audience and customers by sharing your personality, and being very real with them in your content, interactions, and even in your products or services.
ACTION ITEM: Build a personality for your brand complete with the words, colours and images that best expresses your brand.
Pay Attention to Your Current Customers
In the brainstorming of new ideas for sales and marketing our business, we often neglect our most important resource: current clients. Chances are you already have some very valuable information regarding what your customers respond to. Take a look at what they buy, when they buy, what emails they open and what links they click. This information will help you hone in on how to offer value and how to be memorable. It may also help you specialize.
ACTION ITEM: Reach out to your five best customers to find out why they chose you, what they value most, what they are interested in knowing more about.
Build an Engaged Community
Connect with your audience and customers on a regular basis and you will begin to build relationships and community. For example, you could:
- Invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn.
- Ask questions and invite comments on a regular blog post.
- Deliver a monthly email newsletter directly to their inbox that offers great value, provides useful information, and/or offers a special pricing or access to services.
Remember that the goal is not a mad race for a large quantity of friends/followers/connections, but rather a careful and thoughtful acquiring of a community of people who look forward to communicating with you.
ACTION ITEM: If folks are not engaging – opening your emails, clicking through your links, posting comments or responses to your questions – you may need to do some more research into your clients’ preferences and interests so you can start conversations that they are interested in.
Pay attention to what works for you and repeat it. For example, if you find that checklists are downloaded more than free reports, offer more checklists. If they buy more during the summer than in the winter then offer them more during the summer. As business owners we are often tempted to come up with the next new thing because we don’t want to be boring. Resist the temptation to change things to keep it interesting for you! Consistency and repetition are the key.
ACTION ITEM: Start to measure the success of your marketing and sales activities. Choose the metrics that work for each channel, and be prepared to focus your resources on your high performers.
Staying ahead of the competition doesn’t just mean following their actions online and reacting to them. Instead, create a plan to be proactive. And don’t feel that you have to tackle all of these ideas all at once. Pick one thing and take action, and keep taking action each and every day.
That’s how you’ll not only survive, but thrive, for the long term.