Published On: Wed, Dec 21st, 2016

5 Strategies To Give Your Startup A Competitive Edge

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By Contributing Author 

What makes your business different from other businesses in your niche? It’s a simple question, but the answer can have profound implications. The answer to that question will help you differentiate yourself from the competition and give customers a reason to buy from you over anyone else.

This is not a question you ask just once and move on. It’s a question that you ask every quarter or every year because the answer will have changed. By consistently asking this question, you will make continuous improvements to your brand. It’s difficult to keep up with a company that’s always getting better at what it already does well.

By making your brand stand out in the marketplace, you will increase your market share because you will make it increasingly harder for your competitors to keep up. Branding is much more than logos, slogans, and advertising campaigns; it’s a way to remind customers why they should buy from you.

In the light of your understanding about how important it is to differentiate your business from similar businesses, here are five ideas you can use today:

Use technology to get an edge over your competition.
“The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer, ” said Peter. F. Drucker. And the way to do that is by getting to know your customers better to be able to meet their needs. Using the right software will make a huge difference in this quest to improve customer relations.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) will help you build better business relationships by organizing all data related to customers and their interactions with your company. You will have all the data you need to understand customer habits.

However, all CRMs are not the same and you’ll get the best results from using one that is suited to your particular business needs. You’ve likely heard of Salesforce, but there are also other top challengers to Salesforce that can improve sales by allowing you to understand the people who understand the value of your products and who appreciate your business model.

Use positioning to get an edge over your competition.
All companies need more customers to stay in business, but how you go about it makes all the difference. Some ways are harder than others. Conversions are more challenging and customer acquisition costs are higher.

While most businesses get customers by prospecting, a few savvy businesses get customers by positioning themselves as the go-to experts, the leading authorities in the niche.

So instead of hunting for customers, set your business up to attract them.

Use altruism to get an edge over your competition

If you reposition your business to stand for more than a commercial enterprise, then you will attract more customers. In other words, don’t just sell stuff; make a stand for something bigger.

A classic example is Toms Shoes. While the company makes good shoes, what makes Toms Shoes different is the company’s pledge to contribute to a better world. Their pledge states: “TOMS offers brand new, made-to-order shoes in a variety of styles
to meet the needs of the children our Giving Partners serve.”

Of course, this altruism has to be genuine for it to work. Simply picking a popular cause is not enough; it should be something that everyone in the company can get behind with enthusiasm.

Use best practices to get an edge over your competition

Although there are probably many aspects of business that you’re not good at implementing right now, you don’t have to figure everything out for yourself from scratch. The wheel has already been invented. The research and testing have already been done for you by other companies. By researching their best practices, you can gather up more than enough data to then create your own.

There is always a steep learning curve as you try to grow your business, but by studying what has worked for others, you can reduce the time and effort it takes to rapidly grow your business.

Use people development to get an edge over your competition.
A company is only as good as the people who work there. While the executive team might be highly effective, competence has to flow down through the entire organization. Make talent development a priority for your organization.

There are many ways to train and cultivate skills throughout the organization ranging from onboarding new hires through job shadowing to mentoring promising employees through one-on-one coaching programs.

A positive, upbeat corporate culture will foster innovation, productivity, and business success. Google is an example of a company that understands the value of instilling a positive corporate culture. They haven’t topped the Fortune 100’s list of “best companies to work for” for times in a row by accident.

The Value of a Competitive Edge

Why are some businesses more successful than others? Yes, it’s because they are well managed and have popular product, but it’s really because they’ve won people over to their way of doing business. For instance, is Apple’s technology superior to all other computer manufacturers in the world? From a technical point of view, you might hesitate to call them superior. However, the reason Apple made $18 billion dollars profit during the the last quarter of 2015 was because their fans believe that Apple computers are indeed superior to anything else available. What’s more, they will have a list of reasons to back up this belief. That’s a competitive edge!

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