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Using your competition to your advantage

communication23689951.jpgCompetition is all around us and many times it doesn't turn out to be healthy. Small businesses make the mistake of competing with larger companies that have been in the industry longer and have much bigger wallets. Instead of comparing what your company has that the big fish doesn't, you need to stick to knowing where you are at in the market and that is filling needs that other companies cannot. Take a look at all of your competitors and find a way to use them to your advantage. Follow these simple rules and you will be on your way to great marketing campaigns and establishing a great reputation for your small business.

Rule # 1 - Always get to know your competition
No matter how big or small your business is, you must understand who you are up against. You may be able to identify them, but you need to take this one step further like what type of relationships do they develop with their customers, what is their target audience, what types of products do they sell, how do they market to their audience? Don't count out the "small fish" compared to your company because they are watching you and looking for mistakes that you make so they can take advantage of them.

A great way to learn more about your competition is to pull up customer reviews about them. You should also look for magazine articles and other things that have been published about the company. The more you know, the easier it will be to go to bat against them with your next marketing campaign.

Rule # 2 - Become a customer
To really learn about your competition, take a walk over to the dark side and become a customer. You want to walk through their store and take a look at all of the different things that they do to attract customers. From the layout of the store down to the product packaging, you need to tear apart every detail and find out what makes your competition so special in your target customers eyes.

Not only do you need to study their store, you need to study their web site as well. What does their web site have that drives people in? Is it easy to navigate? How is their shopping cart? Do they offer online promotion deals? Like the store, you want to pick apart every single aspect of their web site so you can make yours better.

Rule # 3 - Become friends
This is a concept that may seem a little odd, but it goes back to the old saying, "keep your friends close and your enemies closer." You need to work on developing relationships with your competition because you are going to be in the same network. You will run into each other at social events and conferences and several other places so you might as well introduce yourself and form a relationship. Sometimes competitors are known to strike up a deal where they make an association that will benefit both companies so it's better to try a build a relationship than to come to each event with guns blazing.

Rule # 4 - Stick to your budget

One thing a lot of small business owners do is try to have price wars with their competitors. If you can't afford to slash prices, don't do it. Instead you should focus on attracting customers by adding value to your products. When people come in, tell them about these differences so they will feel that buying from you gives them a better product even if it does cost a little more.

Rule # 5 - Never accept defeat
Just because your competition may win the price war doesn't mean you lost. You still have other things to offer your customers that they don't so you need to boost your efforts on marketing those things versus marketing prices. If you stay stubborn and continue working on building your small business, your competitor may start to ignore you as they realize you will never go away so they just need to find a way to live with you instead.

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