Defining Your Competition

Do you know who your competition is? I hope so. By keeping an eye on them, you can glean insights and learn new ways to go toe to toe with them. Sometimes they do little things that you don’t that might give them an edge. And if you can incorporate those little things, you can take that advantage away, allowing you to compete on other things.

However, getting back to the original question, do you know who your competition is? It is a very common mistake for businesses to cast a too narrow net in defining who their competitors are. This can lead to less than optimal outcomes for your company.

So, be sure to cast a very wide net in terms of defining your competitors. You have direct competitors, who are very easy to identify. Let’s take the example of a pizza parlor. Your most direct competitors are other pizza places. They compete with you for pizza customers. However, other restaurants are also competitors. Be sure to treat them as such. Just because a taco place doesn’t sell pizza doesn’t mean they aren’t a competitor. Customers could very well choose them over you. Supermarkets are also a competitor. People could choose to buy groceries and make dinner at home instead of going out to eat. Don’t forget about this.

Casting a wider net is more complicated, because you have many more competitors to have to understand and address, but the benefits of understanding them all will benefit you greatly. It will allow you to create a better set of marketing activities to attempt to attract positive attention and ultimately drive sales.

The Little Things

We hear all the time that it’s the little things that count. In business, this is absolutely true. There are so many little things you can do that will make a big difference with customers. And what’s great is that these things are free. Retailers, below are some little things you can do. You would think these things would be obvious, but sadly sometimes they are not.

  1. Greet customers when they enter your store. Have you gone into some business and the employees failed to acknowledge your presence? I have many times, and it’s a major pet peeve. It is not hard to say ‘hello,’ ‘good morning,’ ‘welcome,’ or whatever. If you are currently busy, let them know that you’ll be right with them. Ignoring them does nothing.

  2. Smile. This one should be obvious, but maybe it’s not. Smiling at customers gives them a sense of ease and warmth. This can only help their evaluation of your business and products.

  3. Show them the way. If a customer has a question about where to find something in your store, don’t just tell them where it is. Instead, take them directly to it. This little extra effort can pay big dividends.

  4. Take an interest. Your interaction with a customer should not start with ‘how may I help you.’ You should start with ‘how are you,’ ‘nice weather we’re having,’ or something else that shows you are out for more than just the sale. It humanizes the employee-customer encounter, puts customers at ease, and helps to build relationships.

Again, these things are very simple and free to do. Hopefully you already do them, but if not, try to incorporate them into your company’s culture. It’ll work wonders.

Be Who You Are

Not everyone wants to buy your products. Let me repeat that. Not everyone wants to buy your products. It’s a hard thing to hear, but it’s true. Knowing who does and doesn’t want your products can allow you to focus on those most likely to buy from you.

Because you can’t be all things to all people, it is important to be who you are. That will serve you and your business well. Stay focused on what has made you successful and you will continue to be successful. By trying to branch out into other customer segments, you may marginalize your business. You may end up pulling resources away from those more valuable segments. This is a big no-no. Stay true to yourself.

For example, if you are a screen printing business who has become well known for a line of quirky, funny shirts, moving into other types of clothing or themes may water down that image that consumers have of you. And if that built up image has created significant value for your company, you don’t want to do anything to harm it. The results could be disastrous.

So, resist that urge. It will serve you well.