Business competition is tough. If you operate in a fast-moving market where consumers love to shop around, competitors could be hard to beat. 

Thankfully, there are solutions to this problem. Use the following tips and ideas to stay ahead of competitors in all types of markets.

1. Study Your Competition

Before starting your business, you may have looked at your competitors. But how long ago did you do a thorough study of your current competitors?

Some of the old heavy weights may have retired (to use an analogy from boxing). And some new businesses may be drawing away some of your loyal customers.

If you want to remain one of the top-rated businesses in your market and industry, it’s time to do a fresh competitors’ analysis. Find out the strengths and weaknesses of your closest competitors. Then create new strategies to beat their strengths and take advantage of their weak areas.

2. Get Closer to Your Target Consumers

No doubt, you already know a lot about your customers. Maybe you even have well-defined buyer personas for them. 

However, customers’ desires and expectations are constantly evolving. Imagine how the tech and communication needs of customers have changed from the days of the first feature mobile phones to today’s sophisticated smartphones.

Your customers are also expecting you to provide new products, improved flexibility, and sophistication in your service delivery. Strive to meet their expectations so you can stand out among similar businesses.

3. Use Direct Marketing

Before the internet and mobile age, residents visited their mailboxes with high expectations. They found dozens of direct mail ads, brochures, and special offers waiting for their attention. Today, however, few businesses use printed marketing materials.

But old-school marketing still works. You just have to adapt it to fit into the culture of the digital age.

Smart business marketers claim that they get response rates of up to 92% from a well-designed direct mail campaign. This is not surprising. 

Today, most mailboxes are empty. But courier services are more efficient. So, well-crafted direct mail ads will grab consumers’ attention easily.

4. Be Unique

What makes you different from other businesses serving the same market? Is it your low price, efficiency, simplicity, customer service, or professionalism? 

Rediscover what makes your service unique. Use it as a strong value proposition. Let your customers know the service areas where you excel.

5. Invest More in Marketing

No matter how good you are at providing top-notch service, no one will know unless you broadcast it. To rise above your competitors, your marketing voice needs to louder than theirs.

Good marketing will almost always sell better than poor marketing. Consumers will be moved to give your service a try if they keep seeing your ads and marketing materials. Just make sure that you are focusing on a well-defined market segment, so your ad investment yields more sales. 

6. Boost Your Brand Image

Without spending a huge amount of money on re-branding, you can still update your image. Upgrading your store front if you run a brick-and-mortar business is a good starting point. You can add a new coat of paint and put up new service area demarcations.

For a digital business, modifying your website’s homepage, social media profiles, and email signatures are low-cost ways to give your business a new look.

7. Use the Best Marketing Tools

Step up your marketing campaigns with modern tools and apps. Gone are the days when you could depend on manual methods for every marketing task.

Now, customers expect prompt answers to all inquiries. So, learn how to deploy automated email responders, chatbots, CRM apps, and scheduled emails to respond to all your customers. 

However, that does not eliminate the need for personalization. Well-designed marketing tools will improve your ability to assess individual customer needs and provide a more personalized relationship with prospects and clients.

8. Reward Loyal Customers

An old adage says: “a bird in hand is worth two in the bush”. In marketing, it cost far more to acquire a new customer than to satisfy and keep an old one.

So, rewarding your loyal customers with discounts, awards, and bonuses for repeat businesses is a wise business strategy. To keep your old customers from moving over to competitors, treat them like special and precious people. Offer them various different types of perks and compensations.

9. Venture Into New Markets

Emerging markets are constantly waiting to be discovered. Technology has made it possible to discover new markets early.

With digital tools like Google trends and Twitter, you can easily discover what your target audience is searching for. Use what you find to create a strategy to meet the demands of customers in an emerging market. The rewards can be astonishing.

10. Develop Long-term Business Plans

Take a peep into the future of your business. Where do you expect to be in the next 2, 5, 10 or 15 years?

What do you think you will need to do, be, or have to achieve your long-term goals? When you start focusing on long-term growth, you can lay a solid foundation in terms of funding, staffing, research, and development of new products and services.

Staying ahead of your competition may not be a stroll in the park. But with diligence, you can develop a better competitive advantage by applying some of the tips provided above.