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This brief, self-paced course deals with how to become a competitive business, and it explains why it is important to increase the value of your business so that customers consistently choose you over your competitor. The course has six key objectives:

Contents

  1. Branding
  2. Know Your Competition
  3. Identify Customer Preferences
  4. Maintaining Your Uniqueness
  5. Implementing Strategy
  6. Summary
  7. What Next?

Branding

Before everything, you need a good brand. A great product or first-class service is seldom enough to sustain a lasting impression among your customers. In today’s competitive market, a great branding strategy will help ensure that customers remember your business as the ―go-to source for their needs. To build a good brand, first, you need to find answers to the following questions:

Let’s look at each of these in detail.

What Makes You Unique?

You need to identify what defines your business in the minds of consumers and what differentiates it from others providing the same products or services in your target market. Give customers something to remember. There will undoubtedly always be competition. Show your customers reasons to come back to you.

Will You Be Consistent?

You have to be consistent so that the customer can spot you immediately. Here are a few tips to present a consistent image to your customers.

What Is Your Niche?

Creating a niche for your business is essential for success. Often, you can identify a niche based on your own market knowledge, but it can also be helpful to conduct a market survey with potential customers to uncover unfulfilled needs and untapped opportunities. During your research process, identify:

Remember, you cannot make everyone love you, but you can make some people love you. Make sure you target the right customers and provide them with the right solutions.

Who Are You?

Be sure to understand what makes your business unique and what image of your business you want to present to the customers. It is crucial that first you decide who you are and present that same image to your customers. While advertising your brand image, consider the following:

How Strong Will Your Presence Be on Social Media?

Social media has taken over most conversations in the realm of communications and marketing. The technology provides you an opportunity to connect with your customers more closely than ever before. People want access to information about your business.

Social media is a good way to entice customers through promotions and other marketing methods, engage them, and stay on the forefront of their minds. You can use social media often, but be creative and have something to add to the social media conversation beyond the standard advertisement plug.

What Kind of Reputation Do You Want?

A bad reputation can be a big problem for small businesses. As more people look to the Internet to find reviews, feedback, and information, the need for effective reputation management is becoming a pressing issue for many small businesses.

People will talk about you, but you can help shape what they say. Therefore, make your customers feel valued; never mislead them with false claims or advertisements. Remember, reputation can make or break a small business.

Have you ever thought about why the top brands are so popular and successful? Analyzing the factors that make these brands popular will help you create a successful brand.

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Know Your Competition

Knowing your competition is a key aspect of gaining competitive advantage. As a business owner, you want a strategy, product, or experience that is set apart from others. Take the time to examine the following attributes of other businesses up-front:

Where To Research

Where should you research to find out the right information about the market and your competition? You can assess your competitors based on the employees, trade shows, conventions, suppliers or distributers, stock market analyses, government filings, demographic or competitive reports, newspaper, magazines, or blogs, trade publications, Web sites, and customers. You can also visit various shops or the competitor yourself to find out how they are doing business.

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Identify Customer Preferences

After figuring out who is your competitor and who is not, as a business owner, you should figure out whom you want to attract as your customers. Depending on your target audience or your target customers, you need to perform the following tasks:

Revisit Personal Experiences

Before coming up with a strategy to implement your business, revisit your own experiences. While determining your advantages over other businesses, it is important that you think like a business owner. You also need to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and ask yourself why you like to do business with this establishment, and what it is about the establishment that attracts you.

What Is It About a Business That Attracts You?

Let’s learn more about the factors you need to consider while revisiting your personal experiences.

Prices

Service

What Is It About a Business That Turns You Away?

Next, let’s evaluate the factors that turn you away. Is it because you were treated rudely? Were they unhelpful? Was it because their stock was poor or insufficient, and the quality was not up to the mark? Or did you find the prices too high? Think about a time when you were treated poorly or ignored entirely by customer service. What is it about the business that made you never want to go back? Was it a long wait? Were they unapologetic?

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Strategies

At this point, you’ve gained valuable insight to make important decisions. You should now be able to create a strategy. While determining your business strategies, you should follow these guidelines:

First, make sure you are different. You cannot be everything to everybody. But you can decide on your specific dimensions and establish your unique selling proposition.

Second, be price-sensitive. Pamper your customers with offers such as coupons, sales and discounts, financing packages, a convenient return policy, and a Loyalty program.

Third, make it convenient for the customers to access your business. Choose a location which is accessible, and if possible, offer online ordering and delivery. Be friendly to customers and provide good customer service and accessibility.

Finally, be sure to deliver products that are innovative, durable, reliable, and consistent. Your products should be a reputable, recognized brand and trendsetter. Your products can also be companion products.

Now that we have learned about how to create a winning business strategy, here are the things you should keep in mind before implementing a strategy:

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Maintaining Your Uniqueness

Now that we have reviewed how to create a strategy and how to implement it, let’s focus on how you can remain unique. Remaining unique is as critical as implementing a strategy. You can remain unique by continually evaluating the following trends and updating your strategy according to the changing market trends.

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Summary

This short course provided several ways of increasing the value of your business so that customers consistently choose you over your competitors. In this course, you learned about:

You now have a better idea of who you are, what your goals are, how to achieve your goals, and how to stay ahead of the competition.

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What Next?

Now what should you do? Follow these steps to begin applying your knowledge of competitive advantage in your business.

  1. Brand yourself
  2. Do customer research Step
  3. List your strategies and Step
  4. Implement your competitive advantage

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A Note from the Editor

The content of this short course is derived from a source provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The facts and suggestions are thus very reliable. It is, however, a plain-vanilla presentation that omits the difficult realities of starting and building a successful small business. Take the information at face value, but bear in mind that mere itemized procedures aren't sufficient.

David L. Heiserman, Editor

Copyright ©  SweetHaven Publishing Services
All Rights Reserved

Revised: June 06, 2015