Small businesses, worldwide, find themselves losing their traditional competitive advantages with globalization and proliferation of internet in our daily lives. These businesses risk falling into the commodity trap if they do not strategize now to gain a competitive edge through differentiation.
You may think it does not apply to your business.
You would be wrong.
As a small business, your competition is not just the neighborhood small business, but also the Googles and Amazons of this world, and the tech-tools available to everyone.
How long before Amazon or Google start selling what you sell? How long before your local competitor will optimize their supply chain by utilizing Alibaba?
It is sooner than you may think.
In a world, where there are so many options for the consumer, making a prospect choose the solution you offer can be quite difficult. Today, every other business is trying its level best to gain a competitive edge over the other.
But how do you get this competitive edge over other businesses?
Well, here’s the thing - there’s no magic wand that gives your business a competitive edge. Instead, it is all about connecting your business to the right audience with the right message.
And the key to doing this is execute the 10 strategies we have outlined in this article.
Finding the right execution model will take experimentation. Yes, there will be failures on the way. But as long as you have your basics in place, and you persevere, you will find the model that works for you.
What is a competitive edge?
86% of the customers check out multiple competitors. It is quite simple then. You need to give your audience a reason to choose you. This reason is your competitive edge.
That reason is what will differentiate you from your competitors. You need to find a unique mix of values to offer to your audience. Once you find that, your business growth will depend on marketing strategies and customer retention.
Gaining a competitive edge can help you in reaping a lot of benefits. Here’s why a competitive edge is important:
- Attract more new customers.
- Gain the customer’s loyalty.
- Stand out of the competition and shine.
- Maximizing the revenue by expanding the customer base.
So, without further ado, here are the 10 strategies to gain a competitive edge for your small business. Please note, this is not a magic wand, but an effort to guide you in the right direction. You may be doing all or some of it, and that is a great thing, but it never hurts to revisit the concepts.
1. Build a unique online presence
Creating a solid digital presence is no more an option for businesses.
With digitalization, every business is moving online. By creating digital footprints a business can reach a wider audience. Plus, social media can be used to share unique thoughts and ideas that can help in standing out.
Most importantly, online marketing is cheaper than traditional marketing. And, as a small business, you can save a lot of money and use it somewhere else.
With the proliferation of social platforms and search engines, it is not just about spending money on ads, or building a website. It is as much about engaging with the right audience via great content and distribution.
You can use easy website building tools to get you up and running in no time.
2. Leverage the content
Content is king! No business in the world can survive without content.
Use content marketing to reach out to your customers. A killer brand story will help you to position yourself in the market. Share your mission and vision with your audience and let them know what you are doing or offering.
Educate your audience and keep posting content. It will help in creating engagement and gaining the trust of the audience, and also create a competitive edge over others.
Distribution of content is as important as creating content. Email marketing is a powerful tool, in addition to social media, to distribute content effectively.
3. Identify and segment your audience
Segmenting will help your business to build and market your product/service effectively.
If you keep on targeting everyone, you will end up converting no one.
You need to properly analyze the market and identify your target audience. This way you will be able to direct your efforts in the right direction. Then you need to find out ways, to how you can reach out to them and tell them about your offer.
Tools like Deskera CRM let you segment audiences and contacts easily and dynamically with rules.
Go inch wide-mile deep. Stay focused on solving problems for selected personas through your product/offerings and direct your marketing efforts towards the same audience.
4. UX / Design / Visuals cannot be ignored
Visuals are important to gain positive attention.
You need an amazing logo, website, and social media handles to establish your brand. The content should be backed up by killer designs to elevate the brand. Get a proper brand color, theme, etc., and start designing banners, logos, and all.
UX should constantly evolve. Always be on the look out for making things easier for your users. Even if they don't find it hard today, you can bet your money that your competitor is trying real hard to build an even easier way. Don't let them win.
5. Incorporate customer feedback
Take into account the constructive feedback and make changes accordingly.
81% of the companies think customer experience is a competitive differentiator. Understanding your customer's psychology will help you gain the edge here.
Ask your customers for feedback and the ways you can improve your offer. Then, identify and implement the processes to improve your business. This will also make your customers feel wanted and help in making quick and efficient changes in the business.
6. Turn customers into evangelists
90% of people use customer service as the deciding factor to choose a brand.
Focus on building a deeper and stronger relationship with the customers. Provide them value and make sure to exceed their expectations. This will help in retaining the existing customers and attracting new customers.
Whether you are doing this or not can be easily measured with NPS (Net Promotor Score) surveys. One way to exceed customer expectations is to provide world class support.
Encourage your customers to leave reviews on sites like G2, Capterra, Trustpilot among others every time you solve a customer issue. This can greatly boost your perception as customer oriented business.
7. Experiment & innovate continuously
Innovation is the key to stand out from the competition. Experimentation leads to innovations.
Make sure to adapt as per the changes in the business environment. Keep on innovating and coming up with the new ways of doing things. This will help in gaining a competitive edge over other businesses.
Innovation is not limited to technology.
You can innovate with stuff like what messaging and tone you use to communicate with your customers. Even the simplest changes, like changing the color of a button, can help boost conversion rates.
Here is a comprehensive marketing guide with 75 tips to help you get started.
8. Become an authority
Be the go-to reference for your target audiences.
Once you have identified your audience and their needs, make sure you create content that solves their problems, answers their questions and is all about them.
Take part in events/conferences attended by your target personas. Speak to them about you/your business is solving their problems. Be heard.
Build a training course for your prospective customers. help them get better, and cement your standing and authority.
9. Test your price elasticity
Don't let your product or offering be commoditized.
You are offering a unique value to your users through your products and offerings. Know what you are worth, and the only way to do that is to experiment with how much the market is willing to pay.
While it is never advisable to get into price wars, a timely discount offer on top of your prestige pricing can create the right desire in your prospects to part with their cash.
10. Use IT solutions to remove process bottlenecks
Technology is your friend. If you let it be.
Unlocking your team's productivity is a no-brainer. Still, complete digitalization of business processes is something that 80% of small businesses have not even thought about.
How does that work out for them? How will it work out for you?
Not only are you competing with possibly a bigger company with deeper pockets, but also they are doing things faster than you. You know how these stories end.
Unless you level the playing field.
You may not have as much cash as your biggest competitor, but you can work better, smarter, and faster. And technology adoption, digitalization, is the way to do that.
The better you know your customers and their pain points, the better solution you can offer. This way, you can not just help them in the best possible way but also gain loyal customers and generate more revenue for your business. Plus, it will help in gaining a competitive edge.
Don't let your product/offering become a commodity. Instead, try to provide an exceptional offer and exceed the customer’s expectations. Focus on creating a brand that has something unique to offer.
Here’s a quick summary of the 10 strategies we covered to give your business the competitive edge:
- Build a unique online presence
- Leverage the content
- Identify and segment your audience
- UX / Design / Visuals cannot be ignored
- Incorporate customer feedback
- Turn customers into evangelists
- Experiment & innovate continuously
- Become an authority
- Test your price elasticity
- Use IT solutions to remove process bottlenecks