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5 Effective Ways to Beat Your Competition

Max Freedman
Max Freedman

There are several strategies you should be using to ensure you stay ahead of your competitors.

To become a successful business, you need to find ways to stay a step ahead of your competition. Doing so is often easier said than done, and there's no simple answer to how to beat your competition.

Competition exists in every market. Smarter companies nullify the effect of competitors in order to increase marketshare.

How do they do that? Here are five simple, yet powerful ways to beat your competition.

1. Find and then solve your customers' pain points.

One likely way to beat your competition is to address the needs of your shared target audience better than your competition can. Ask open-ended questions to find exactly what your customers want while using your products or services.

Certain questions that identify pain points may be especially effective to ask your customers. These questions include:

  • What is your company's biggest obstacle to growth?
  • What is your biggest personal obstacle?
  • What matters the most to your supervisor?
  • Which tasks occupy most of your time?
  • What are your complaints?
  • What might account for any recent business or customer losses?

After you identify a customer's pain points, you can attempt to solve them by discussing their issues using terminology that the customer uses. Once you have a clear picture of the issue, the next step is to ascertain who at their company can solve those pain points and who is authorized to purchase your products and services. (This individual is not always the same person who can solve the pain point.)

It's important to focus your efforts on trying to provide solutions to customers' issues, not just trying to sell them your products or services. Take as much time – whether that involves several phone calls, or weeks or months of emails and follow-ups – to identify and solve your customers' pain points.

2. Find a niche in the market via storytelling and specialization.

It's tempting to daydream about what it would be like if you had no competition at all. When you build a niche, you come much closer to achieving this ultimate goal.

That's because a crowded marketing has far less room for expansion. To compete in a crowded market, you need a unique selling proposition. The more unique it is, the less room for competition there is.

Storytelling is a great way to build your niche by creatively crafting stories around your products. Through the use of stories, you can become a part of your prospect's lifestyle and not remain a stand-alone product or service. Burst offers free stock photography that you can use for creating and promoting stories about your brand across social media.

Specialization leads to a scalable and successful business. A niche market is reliable, and the prospects are easier to target. Moreover, the customer retention rate is good. Start targeting locally relevant platforms where your target customers are, and adopt a niche marketing strategy for them. We've covered how to create a marketing plan, and have included examples to apply to your own business.

Similar to identifying and solving pain points, developing a niche via storytelling and specialization can be a long-term effort. Take several weeks to devise your story and then regularly turn this story into content such as blog posts and email marketing campaigns. Specialization can also be a long-term process, as it can involve gradually scaling back products and services that no longer fit into your niche.

FYIFYI: A niche market is reliable, and the prospects are easier to target. Moreover, the customer retention rate is good.

3. Set competitive pricing.

One of the easiest ways to beat your competition is to offer more affordable pricing. To determine the ideal price point, you need a clear picture of what your competition's goods or services are priced at. Research which competitors offer the best value. Then you need to determine if what you are offering brings more value to the table and thus should be priced higher.  

However, if beating your competition is your primary pricing concern, opt for a competition-based pricing strategy. Using this strategy, you ignore product costs and consumer demand. Instead, you focus on the existing market rate for your products or services. You then set your price to fall within the range of prices that your competitors offer. Surveying your competitors' prices may only take hours and generally requires less time than other competition-reducing methods.

The best pricing strategy isn't always about lowering your prices. Since the market is segmented by lower, middle, and upper-tiered customers, you need to figure out which group is your audience. 

Once you have that determined, you are in a better place to set your prices. Sequoia's pricing strategy guide is a great resource to turn to when trying to set a price points to beat your competition. [Find out how to easily accept customer payments with a credit card processing solution.]

4. Change your business to stay ahead of your competition.

When you're running a business, change is a constant.

Urban Outfitters created a powerful disruptive force because it hired artists instead of businesspeople to manage its stores. They had freedom in shaping the interiors of their stores, and the result was remarkable. Every Urban Outfitters store was unique, while the competitors' stores all looked the same. The company raised revenue by a massive 500% to around $3 billion in the last 10 years.

Urban Outfitters beat its competition by changing the traditional retail model: Its customers learned that choosing Urban Outfitters meant walking into a different store every time instead of experiencing the monotony associated with many retailers. Use Urban Outfitters as inspiration, and consider ways to beat your competition that involve improving on an existing model, whether that's your current business model or a more prevalent one in your industry.

Identifying a model that can be changed, and executing these changes can take months, if not years, but you can easily start this journey using your own products and services. For example, you could boost the capabilities of your current business processes using virtual reality applications like Samsung Gear VR.

Giants like Nokia and BlackBerry were wiped out from the smartphone market because of lack of innovation. Remember, your competitors are regularly innovating, and new entrants are disrupting the marketplace. Your business should innovate often and in a manner that the competition finds hard to imitate.

Bottom lineBottom line: When assessing which of these ways to beat your competition is best, define your brand, set a unique selling proposition, and stay ahead of your competition in terms of quality, price, and customer service.

5. Provide great customer service.

Providing great, and memorable, customer service is a great way to build loyalty among your customers and differentiate yourself from the competition.

Put a priority on hiring employees who have a full understanding of not just your products and services, but your brand as a whole. Don't rush the process of hiring customer service team members. Finding the right people for the job is more important than filling those jobs.

Your staff should greet customers with a pleasing smile, and they should show gratitude to those they interact with. It is essential to boost the team spirit of your staff and hire team players. Reward the team players, as employees need constant motivation to outperform others.

Your customer care team should always remain courteous and respectful. They must always be responsive to customer queries. They should have a problem-solving approach and always ask for customer feedback. Customer-centric companies are powered by dependable staff who raise the level of customer satisfaction. [See our top choices for business phone systems to ensure your customer care team has access to the best communication tools available.]

Thorough customer service training involves weeks or months. Even when you think your customer service team is performing at its best, it can likely be improved. The journey of aligning your customer service team with your company values and always prioritizing the customer's experience has no time limit.

Moreover, talk with your customers so that you can retain them for life – you can't figure out how to beat your competition if your customers are leaving you. Sure, you need to find new customers, but beating your competition begins with the people who already know – and trust – your brand.

Image Credit: Chainarong Praserttha / Getty Images
Max Freedman
Max Freedman Contributing Writer
Max Freedman is a content writer who has written hundreds of articles about small business strategy and operations, with a focus on finance and HR topics. He's also published articles on payroll, small business funding, and content marketing. In addition to covering these business fundamentals, Max also writes about improving company culture, optimizing business social media pages, and choosing appropriate organizational structures for small businesses.