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Tired of Competing? Part 1: Introduction

It’s a jungle out there.

You have to fight for every morsel of business, bending your terms and killing your margins. You’re constantly competing against weighty rivals who have stronger platforms, longer track records and bigger marketing budgets than you do.

Competing is a pain…

It’s distracting: instead of developing your business and pursuing your goals, you’re wasting time and resources merely trying to outmanoeuvre your rivals.

It’s exhausting: even once you’ve earned your clients’ custom, you can’t let your guard down. You must stay vigilant, lest your competitors sneak in and undermine your retention efforts.

And it’s destructive, especially if others offer the same (or even vaguely similar) solutions to yours. I mean, if you supply gas and electricity, for example, your product is just like all the other gas and electricity suppliers. And because these offerings are all so similar, consumers will shop around and switch away on a whim. When this happens, it is nearly impossible to win them back. That is unless you can offer a substantial incentive like a big saving, and even that might not be enough.

Of course, competing with identical products on price alone is not a road you want to go down. It may seem like the obvious choice – it’s just a little bit of healthy price competition. You may even have a lower cost base than your rivals, and so it’s an accessible and highly visible way to differentiate. But it only gives you one direction to go, and that’s down, in a race to the bottom that has no winners.

But this doesn’t just apply to real utilities. We all have competitors and competitor products (/services). There’s always somewhere else customers can spend their £ to get a comparable outcome. And often the differences between them are so nuanced that only the respective suppliers themselves can really appreciate why one is better than the other!

For instance, you might think your accountancy firm is unique because of the super hands-on or online support you offer. Or, maybe you believe your coaching practice is special because of the models you draw on or the way you interact with your clients. But can your clients spot and appreciate these differences, or to them are these so-called points of differentiation obtuse and of little value?

Finding a way to stand out

If you want to avoid being relegated to just another (accountant, designer, consultant …), you need a clear and unambiguous differentiator.

Consider what you can do to present your offering in a way that makes it desirable and creates demand. Forget gimmicks and short-term promises; I’m talking about making it genuinely better, from the foundations up. It needs to be something your clients or customers ‘get’ and will value. Something they can see and understand without any explanation.

This could involve:

  • Niching down: Rather than target a whole market, tailor your offering to really meet the needs of a specific group or segment of the market. Become THE go-to person for that thing.
  • Creating a package: Instead of selling solutions individually, put together a package of complementary products or services that serve a group of needs your targets will share. Make it easy to appreciate and consume what you offer as part of a holistic solution.
  • Being your brand: Endorse what you sell. Stand by it, put your name on it, so it is obvious you’re the only person to provide this solution, in this way.

This is the introduction article to our four-part, Tired of Competing series. In those that follow, we’ll look at each approach in detail and explore how you can apply it to your own business.

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