When searching for small business growth; the focus can often be largely internal. Your team, your product and your service offering are always key considerations - and while these are great places to begin the competition is often overlooked. Many business aren't sure who they are competing with or why it even really matters.
Whilst self belief and the determination to succeed are admirable traits, the reality is that ignoring the competition doesn't make business sense.
With this in mind we've decided to round up our 5 key reasons your competition shouldn't be ignored:
1) Differentiate yourself
Your market may be mass or niche, but either way - you're more likely to be heard if your value proposition is unique.
Your value proposition defines what you offer the market and can be largely holistic. It can sit within the service you offer, a specific product or even resonate throughout the entire company - the importance is that you stand alone in what you offer and how you offer it. Studying your competition well allows you to tweak your offer to something specific to you.
2) Know your faults
It's always reassuring to know that you're ahead of the curve, but this isn't always the case. Understanding your competitors behaviour, its frequency and effectiveness, is vital to driving home a message that you need to increase your efforts.
This couldn't be more true when you're competing online. Websites are routinely updated, email frequencies are A/B tested and the next social platform is just around the corner.
Being in last place can be an advantage if you are aware of exactly why. Knowing just how far behind the market leader you are and for what reasons can work as great inspiration, focusing a teams goals which will boost your digital growth.
There is no shame in learning. No matter how experienced you think you may be - whether you're part of a crowded sector or an emerging market, the chances are that someone does at least one part of your process better than you.
This could be absolutely anything from having a great tone of voice, mastering the perfect email layout or having a particularly engaging site design.
We wouldn't suggest carbon copying a company's logo, but taking inspiration from a successful competitors ethos will fast-track your growth. As long as you're constantly aware of what they do best or better you should take inspiration wherever possible.
4) Be part of the conversation
There isn't much point in having a fantastic, unique offer if no one knows about it - or worse, you spend all of your time speaking to the wrong people.
A cost effective way of finding out where you should place your efforts is to invest time studying the competition. This can work both ways, the competition may be doing a fantastic job of engaging with the population and your knowledge of their methods may allow you to join into those same conversations.
Alternatively you may view everyone else's methods as insufficient, identifying a gap that your business can quickly fill and capatilise on.
5) Know when you're ahead
You may be the best there is at what you do, which is a great position to be in! You're only ever going to know this if you're regularly ranking the rest of the market against your efforts.
If you're a market leader you must capitalise on this fact, and knowing exactly where the opportunities and gaps are will enhance your progress and cement your top spot.
If you'd like to know how your competitors perform online, download our free comparison tool which ranks your online efforts after only 15 minutes work!