10 steps to successful marketing: Step 4 – Know your competition

tennisTop sports people know their competition. Tennis players spend hours analysing their opponents’ game. They try to find their weak spot, as well as identifying where their opponent might try to attack back at them. Then in the game itself they focus on the opponent’s weakness, sometimes relentlessly for shot after shot, game after game.

You may not be in the running for Wimbledon next year, but if you want to successfully market your business you need to know what competition you are up against, so that you can gauge the attractiveness of your offering in relation to theirs.

Is your product or service genuinely better or more innovative than the competition? If it is, then shout about it! Make a point of highlighting your unique features and benefits.

What about price? You may not want to concentrate on price alone, as in a race to the bottom nobody wins in the long term. However, it’s going to be more difficult to make a profit if a competitor has a broadly similar offering to yours at half the price. You will need to ask yourself why there is such a discrepancy in price. Of course, sometimes consumers assume a product is better by the very nature of its higher price, especially in sectors such as luxury goods.

In a world increasingly affected by ecommerce, you could be mistaken in thinking that where you site your business is no longer important. But despite the proliferation of online retailers and m-retailing, where you are in relation to your competitors can still make a big difference to your business. In retail, it’s tempting to go for the reduced rent and rates of a unit off the main drag, but this can be a false economy: a shop round the corner costing double the amount may have ten times the footfall of the side street, which should result in significantly higher sales if you are offering something people want at the right price.

The other thing which you can learn from the competition is how they promote themselves. What features do they emphasise? How promotional channels do they use to generate new business? Who are their major clients? What can you change and what can you copy?

Armed with answers to all of these questions, you’ll be in a better position to compete. Anyone for tennis?