In business, there will always be someone older than you, who has more marketing money than you, who has been in business longer than you, and who may be able to deliver a product or service at a lower cost. Your competitors may have high internet search rankings and an army of followers on Facebook. How do you compete in the market with that kind of loss?
As a younger player, you have some advantages. You can address markets that are too small for big players to compete in profit. You may be able to meet the specific needs of a niche better than your larger competitors. Your level of service may be superior to that available to your more established competitors. Perhaps you can guarantee that the big contestants cannot match. You can definitely change the way you serve your market compared to larger competitors. Your products can be high end with better quality and performance that are offered by mass market vendors. Finally, you may have an expertise that is important to a group of customers who may not be able to match larger competitors. However, in most cases the worst thing you can do is compete on price against bigger and better established competitors. This can work for a while, but with limited exceptions, in the long run you are not going to succeed or make as much money as you should.
The answer to competing in very competitive markets against larger and more established competitors is to develop your unique selling proposition. The thing that makes your product or service different from everyone else. Your product or service cannot be a neutral thing. All the potential benefits I listed above are unique selling characteristics. They establish that your product or service is different than everyone else’s, not an item and offer customers a unique value proposition that they will find difficult to find elsewhere.
So what is your unique selling proposal? How does your offer in the market matter? What features will your customers enjoy more than your competitors’ offerings? If you are a distributor or manufacturer, can you place full orders faster than your competitors, allowing your customers to keep less inventory? If you are into financial services or real estate, do you have some special education or experience that your customers would find valuable if they knew about it? Do you trust your product or service so much that you can guarantee performance to your customers that no one else can match. Can your customers call and speak with a real human on the fourth ring or the actual 98% of the time, which is an exceptionally enjoyable experience working with your business? you get the idea.
Knowing what your unique selling proposition is at the intersection of two sets of information is key:
- Are you really good and in a position to provide
- What your customers find valuable
I have said before: If you cannot establish a price, then there is only a price to talk about. So find out what your customers value and are willing to pay for it may not be obvious at first glance. Ask them and keep asking them. Find out what they want, what they dislike, what they fear, what they are trying to accomplish with their purchase and what they would really like to see in a product or service offering. These are all as potential points of differentiation. Then find a way to present your product or service in a way that addresses the point of differentiation on a profit.
Once you establish your specific sales proposition, customers need to know that you offer it. It should be on your website, your collateral and your sales script. Whenever a customer or prospect comes in contact with your business, they need to hear or see about your unique sales proposition. When they do business with you, they need to experience it every time. It is your brand from that point on. This is what you will be known for. This is why prospects will choose your product or service over others in the market, and the reason customers will keep coming back. This is what makes your business, products and services unique in the marketplace, and how you can compete with larger and more established competitors.
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