Keeping ahead of your competition

Business is a dog eat dog world. No matter what field you decide to specialise in or what products or services you provide, there are bound to be numerous other individuals or businesses out there with similar ideas targeting the same demographic as you have set your sights on. So, how can you possibly make your brand stand out from the crowd, drawing in customers and generating profit? Well, the key is to always keep one step ahead of your competition. Here are a few different ways to achieve this.

Stay Up to Date with Tech Developments

If you want your small business to always have the best products on the market, you need to ensure that you are always up to date with the latest tech developments. After all, the better the equipment and machinery that you are using to make your products, the higher quality your products will be. If you are the first to invest in new and improved equipment, you will be the first on the market to offer new and improved final products and customers are likely to favour you over your competition. Take sensors as an example. If your business makes use of sensors in your research and development, chances are that you have silicone based sensors, as these have been prevalent in the market up until now. However, newly released graphene sensors actually do a much better job of detecting and sensing, so by investing in these, you up your game and make yourself stand out in your field. In short, keep an eye on tech developments so that you can be the first in your field to access them when they are launched on the market.

SEO

When customers are looking for products or services, the first place they tend to go is search engines. They’ll type in keywords associated with what they’re looking for and are likely to click the first link that appears in the search engine results. So, you want this first link to lead to your website. Being listed higher than your competitors is likely to result in more sales and generate more profit. It ensures that you are the first place customers are directed to and that they are not lost to your competition before they even know you exist. So, how can you go about ranking as highly in search results as possible? Well, you should make use of the services provided by specialist SEO agencies. These professionals will know the tricks of the trade down to a tee and will be able to boost your page to the top of the search results as quickly as possible. While you could take a whole host of courses in SEO in order to learn the in-depth tricks of the trade yourself, the time and money involved in this could be put to better use in pushing other aspects of your business forward.

Keep an Eye on Potential Rising Influencers

Instagram has around 800 million active users, so while this site may well appear to be a personal image sharing app at first glance, it holds a whole lot of potential for any small business –  by engaging with this site, you are exposing your brand to a huge market of potential customers. Now, one of the best ways to make your brand appear superior to other brands offering similar goods or services is for people to assume that people they admire use it and favour it. This is where social media influencers come into play. Instagram influencers are simply the “it” people of Instagram. They have a large number of followers, meaning that their posts are seen by large numbers of people. They have the potential to influence others into purchasing your products. You can often contact them directly using the “direct message” feature or they may have an email address listed in their Instagram bio. Once you get in touch, you can often negotiate a way for them to post a picture with your products. If they like your goods, they may settle for the free goods that they use for their picture. Others with larger numbers of followers and a more profound presence may demand a fee of sorts. Generally speaking, it’s best to get in with these individuals before they gain excessive followers and start charging higher fees. So keep a constant eye out for rising influencers who are likely to appeal to your target demographic and get in with them before a competitor does.

Price Competitively

Competitive pricing is a point of contention amongst many businesses. When one company undercuts the prices of another, they can easily steal the other’s customers from beneath their feet. But it’s important to bear in mind that this also significantly reduces the perceived value of your goods over time, as if companies keep undercutting one another, consumers come to value the product less. You also all take home less profit, as your profit margins significantly reduce. So, you need to be careful when it comes to your competitive pricing strategy. If your prices are significantly higher than your competitors’ and you can allow for significant reductions without completely cutting out your profits, then by all means, cut your prices to sit in line with your competitors. Also bear in mind that you can often sway customers to use your company without devaluing your product. Consider offering free postage, discounts on multiple purchases, or other offers instead.

These are just a few different methods of keeping ahead of your competition, but incorporating them into the way that you run your business could prove invaluable. They really do make sure that you are always one step ahead of your competition, helping you to secure sales and make money. So, give them a try sooner rather than later!

Image by Vincent van Zalinge

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Christine Buske is a former academic who left science at the bench, and now considers herself a woman in tech. She is a frequently invited speaker, and enjoys talking about career transformation (particularly leaving academia for the business world), tech, issues around women in tech, product management, agile, and outreach. She is a proud Canadian resident, and qualifies as a "serial expat".

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