What does it take to stay one step ahead of the competition? Marketing and advertising has changed so much in the past 5 years that many businesses are struggling to keep up with trends.
Despite this, there's a simple strategy when it comes to thinking about staying one step ahead of the competition. The 3 ingredients to staying ahead are:
Business Competition Awareness
What are your competitors currently doing to market themselves? This includes both online and offline marketing/advertising. If you know what their current strategy is, you can find a way to counter that strategy.
Much like in martial arts you can use your opponents force against them. That might sound weird, but stay with me.
What's My Relative Position?
Staying one step ahead of the competition requires knowing where you're at relative to where your competitor is at.
Knowing how they're marketing is not enough. You want to know what their positioning is overall.
For instance if you're coming into a local market with a hair salon and analyzing your top competitor, what market factors do they have in their favor? This might include length of time in business, affiliate relationships with other complimentary services, what is their target demographic, estimated size of client base in direct competition, etc..
How Will You Anticipate What's To Come?
Having an anticipatory strategy isn't just about staying one step ahead of what your competition is doing right now.
It's also staying with market trends, how people are becoming aware of your business, what do they do to seek out your type of business?
Next, you're going to need a strategy that will strategically dismantle your strongest competitor. The best way to do this is indirectly. Instead of getting into an ad battle of who can spend the most, or a price war with them (far too common), you'll want a way to get clients to choose you even if you charge more.
One Step Ahead Strategy
First, you want to make sure that you know your clients (or potential clients) biggest need. This doesn't mean guess, this means get out in the field and ask them, do surveys.
You need to find the pain.... What are the top 2 or 3 things that actually push them over the edge to buy, or seek out your type of product or service.
This will help you form benefits of your business instead of "features". Features are what something does, benefits are why your customers should care and what they will get from it.
Next, you want a way to set the "buying criteria" for your market. How do clients currently decide on your product or service? How could you educate them to make them better buyers? These are important questions.
Imagine that you own a chiropractic practice. An average person may not know too much about how to find a good chiropractor. This is your chance to change buying criteria and stay one step ahead. The first thing on your website and your advertising might be:
Who is going to be interested in this?
Well, everyone who currently goes to a chiropractor, or is thinking about going to one. When they click through, you give them HVHQ (high value, high quality) information.
For instance, you describe the most common reasons people see a chiropractor, why chiropractors are able to help, how to select the best chiropractor, the dangers of a bad chiropractor, 3 things they can do at home or at the office, etc. By doing this, you you accomplish:
"Back Pain? 3 Things You Should Know Before Seeing A Chiropractor"
- You've genuinely built good will and trust with your prospect
- You've set their buying criteria (and possible in a way that favors you)
- You're now positioned as an expert
- Increased the urgency to buy NOW (instead of waiting)
You can then end it with something like:
"If you'd like to come in and have me personally assess your needs and help you through your pain call us at [number]. I'll even wave my patient assessment fee if you mention you read this article."
This is a strategic approach to building value and setting the buying criteria of your market so that you are one step ahead of the competition.
All of the research that you've done up until the point of implementing this strategy can be used to overcome objections, build a FAQ page for prospects, and even used in an email marketing campaign.
The Final Step
Will this work for you? Yes, if you do the work.
But, there's one final step.
Measure your results and review them consistently. This will let you know if your new strategy is hitting it's mark, how your competition is reacting (if at all), and what you're next strategic move will be. We don't want business tactics, we want business strategies.
Tactics may or may not work in the short-term. Strategies will help you get to your new USP (Ultimate Strategic Position).