What to do when competition moves in.

Problem is Opportunity Blackboard ConceptOne of the most frequently asked questions I receive is about handling competition.

It happened again last week. I sat with a friend who was very concerned because a big name competitor is moving to her community while her business is still in its infancy. As we talked through it, I thought you might find this counsel of value as well.

Two big things to keep in mind. First, competition always increases awareness for your market and that’s a good thing.

Second, your source of fear is actually about your confidence in your ability to market yourself well. That’s also good news because marketing is a learned skill. You can improve and you can get help. Now you simply have motivation to get it done faster.

Here are six secrets to competing wisely:

  1. Know your niche well, and then identify theirs. I cover this topic extensively in my workshops, but the bottom line is you have to know WHO you really want as your client and what they really want. Do you even truly compete in the eyes of your ideal client?
  2. Strengthen your message. Do an honest strengths and weaknesses analysis and look for ways you need to clarify your message, change your media and strengthen your service so it’s absolutely clear who you specialize in serving better than anyone else. Make sure your ideal clients know why you’re their right choice. If you can’t answer that question clearly, neither can they.
  3. Be everywhere they are. The best place for a Burger King is right next to a McDonalds. In your case, this means that if they’re at an event, hosting a booth, advertising in a circular, or networking after hours – you should be there as well. Don’t run the other way. Show up.
  4. Snoop. Yes it’s OK to check them out. You can hire secret shoppers or even go yourself. Investigate and learn. How do they answer the phone? Greet their guests? Price their services? etc… You don’t need to be dishonest, but carrying on without knowledge of what they do and how they do it could be a big mistake.
  5. Look for an opportunity to collaborate. Perhaps the two of you could join forces to benefit others in some way. If your niches are different, open the door with that conversation and even send them a referral. Remove the word compete from your vocabulary for a while and consider the possibilities if both your businesses were working on changing the community for good.
  6. Take the challenge. Perhaps this is just the reason you needed to reexamine your product and service. What can you do to make a quantum leap in service or change the rules of the game entirely? One of my favorite examples is the Realtor in NY who started hiring a limousine service to drive her high-income clients from home to home while sipping champagne. At the end of the day she treats them to a very nice dinner while they decide as a group on the best purchase for them. Not only does she do a magnificent job of attracting that class of clientele now, she drastically speeds up the decision making time.

Above all, have confidence in your ability to tackle this situation and get help as soon as you need it. Pray for wisdom and then TAKE ACTION. In the words of one of my favorite ‘tell-it-like-it-is’ mentors and authors, Dan S. Kennedy, “Don’t just sit there and die. Do something.”

You can handle this. I believe in you.
– Nicole

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