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Do you know who your competitors are? Do you regularly review and monitor what your competitors are doing? Are you aware of any new competitors? Are you considering both direct and indirect competitors?
It is very important for your business to be aware of the competition and what they are doing. This will help you to gain a fresh perspective on your own business, to capitalise on gaps in the market place, to understand new products and services that are being developed, to be responsive to changes in the market place, to enable you to stay ahead of and stand out from the competition and to identify areas where you may need to make changes in your business to areas such as products and services, pricing and customer service.
So what do you need to find out about your competitors?
Who are your competitors? Your competitors may be other companies offering the same products or services in your local area or they may be companies offering the same products and services over the internet. You may also have indirect competitors who have developed products or services that could be used by your customers as a replacement or substitute for your products or services. Watch out for new competitors as well.
What products and services do they offer? Understand the products and services that your competitors offer. Look out for new products and services, developments to existing products and services, freebies, add ons and related products and services.
What prices do they charge? Find out about their pricing structure and policy. You may have to delve deeper than just their quoted prices. They may have incentives, discounts, repeat purchase offers, free add ons, packaged prices, special offers etc.
What are their strengths and weaknesses? Consider their strengths and weaknesses by looking at their business from an independent perspective. They may be very good at attracting new customers but very poor at retaining clients.
What is their unique selling point? Understand their unique selling point or proposition (USP) to find out what they feel is different about their business and why customers purchase from them.
Who are their customers? Find out who their customers are and what type of customers they are targeting. What products and services are their different customers purchasing? Are their customers one off or are they purchasing on a regular basis?
How do they look after their customers? Understand the customer service that your competitors offer. What do they offer their customers, how often do they speak to them and what is their after sales service? How do they get customer feedback on their service?
How do they market and sell their products and services? You can find a lot out about your competitors by understand how they market and sell their products and services. What is on their website? Do they do email marketing? Are they using social media? What promotions are they doing and what have they got planned? Have they been featured in the media recently? How do they sell to their customers? What is the selling process?
Who are their suppliers and business partners? It is also very useful to understand which suppliers and business partners they are working with. You may find that you want to work with their suppliers or it may give you background information on other aspects of their business e.g. they may be generating business through partners whereas you have only been generating business directly.
What resources do they have in their business? Other information on your competitors will also help you such as where are they based, who they employ, how many staff they have, what systems they use, whether they hold stock and how much, how they distribute or deliver their products and services, what they are investing in, who is running the business, their financial position and who owns the business.
This information can be found out in many ways including looking at their marketing material, reviewing the media, going online, speaking to your contacts, suppliers and customers, speaking to your competitors, attending industry exhibitions and seminars and making enquiries as if you were a customer.
Finding out what your competitors are up to and using the information to improve your own business will pay huge dividends to your business.
Author: Liz Makin
Published: March 2013
Makin It Happen has a range of personal development online courses to purchase, created by Liz Makin, including communication, resilience, time management, stress management and coaching. Liz Makin also provides personalised business coaching, business mentoring and stress management services to business owners, directors, managers and professionals.
Please call Liz on 01780 765270 or email Liz@makinithappen.co.uk
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