This week I was asked by a small business owner whether she should worry about her competitors
My response – ‘Not really…’
And earlier this week I saw an infographic on Reddit, outlining how to create a small business marketing plan
What jumped out to me was that it had absolutely nothing about getting under the skin of your ideal clients/customers/prospects and quite a bit about competitor research
These 2 incidents made me think…
Back in the olden days when Marketing was about The P’s (4 or 7, take your pick) knowing what your competitors were doing DID play a more important part of the marketing process and getting a sale over the line
Now building long term trusted relationships is far more important
I’d argue that it’s far more important to have a strong proposition based on a deep understanding of how you uniquely solve your ideal clients problems
Once you know that, you can work out how to nurture your relationships to build your own loyal tribe who really buy into what you do…
…do that then you can pretty much ignore the competition…
It’s for this reason I say that you could have 2 businesses in the same industry trading next door to each other and as long as they’d each identified their niche and their offering and how to communicate their Special Secret Sauce, they could happily co-exist never treading on each other’s toes
But if I take off my rose tinted glasses for a minute and get back to reality – many businesses do worry about sticking their neck out and doing something different
And that’s not because of a fear about how their clients may react but because of a fear about how the competition will judge it!
How Bizarre Is That?!?
Recently a client of mine was concerned about putting testimonials on their website as they were worried their competitors would try to tempt their testimonial-giving clients away with a cut price deal
I asked them whether they really thought a client who liked you enough to write a testimonial could be tempted away by a competitor with a cheap deal or offer?
It’s a similar thing with putting your prices front and centre on your website
This is something 99% of prospects will value when doing their pre-purchase research. It’s something that will inevitably lead to a better, more trusting relationship with you
Yet this is still something that most businesses avoid for fear that their competitors will somehow use this information against them
To paraphrase Seth Godin – If your customers are just concerned about price, that means you’ve not given them anything more interesting to be concerned about!
Putting my money where my mouth is, my next post will be about ‘How Much Should I Pay A Marketing Consultant’ or something like that – I’ll link it here once I’ve written it!
Now I’m not proposing that you completely ignore your competitors – a healthy understanding of what they’re up to is going to help you to stay relevant and in line with the market – but certainly don’t fear them or worse still, hold back on anything due to concerns about what they may think or do…
Taking a look at the market every six months or so, to keep on top of your competitors strengths/weaknesses and how they’re communicating with their potential clients will stand you in good stead
I’d actually argue that there’s more to be gained from having a positive, friendly relationship with your competitors than an adversarial one – through actually talking to them you may find that you’re targeting the time poor under 30’s and they’re just focusing on the cash rich over 50’s – so you can actually pass ‘dead’ leads to them – for a price of course!
Finally…and this is getting dangerously close to the sort of Woo-Woo motivational stuff that can make me mildly uncomfortable (even though I know it makes sense)…worrying about your competitors comes from an attitude of Scarcity rather than Abundance
In other words, you should take the view that there is plenty of business to go around
It’s not a case of kill or be killed, fighting to the death over the 1 last remaining client on earth!
Instead you should focus on finding ways to identify and reach out to the many potential ideal clients who are going to be very interested in what you say or do
Does that help? I’m keen to hear your views so please comment below