We all have face competition in our businesses, but that competition may not always be coming from where we think. When working customers on their strategic marketing plans, I typically see four broad categories of competitors. I’ve listed them below along with some ideas of how different elements of your marketing plan can help address each one.
Real Competitors – these are businesses that actually perform similar work for similar types of customers as you. The more generic your offerings, the more you try to provide “something for everyone”, the more real competition you will have and the more likely it will be that you will compete solely on price.
Very few businesses want to be the low cost provider. This is why we put such an emphasis on starting with a sound marketing strategy in Duct Tape Marketing. Your marketing strategy defines who (specifically) you serve, the types of problems that you solve, and how you do that differently from everyone else who claims to do what you do.
Mindshare or Category competitors – just because your offering is unique, doesn’t mean it is unique in the mind of your prospects. To a prospective customer a marketing strategist, web designer, direct mail specialist, graphic designer, video producers, and print shops may all provide “marketing”.
Creating marketing materials that educate can help clear up this confusion. Use your marketing materials to educate your prospects about the business problems you solve. Teach them the questions they should be asking to insure they make the best decision for their situation. Use case studies and examples to show them what life will be like after working with you.
Budget Competitors – Even if your products and services are truly unique, you still have to compete for the same budget dollars that other service providers are vying for.
If you want your solution to be a priority for those controlling the budget, make sure your marketing materials focus on prospects business issues and not on your “wonderfulness”.
Doing Nothing – Sometimes your biggest competitor is inertia. One way to overcome inertia is to demonstrate that the cost of your solution is cheaper than the cost of doing nothing. Lay the groundwork for this in your marketing but make sure you address it during your sales process as well.
Look at your marketing and sales process through the eyes of your prospects. How complicated is it to make the decision to buy your products or services? Do you offer too many choices? How complicated is your pricing structure? Does the Try stage of your Marketing Hourglass make it easy for people to start experiencing what it is like to work with you?
What is the biggest source of competition that you face in your business?
Bill Brelsford Small Business Marketing Consultant