A recent survey we conducted for a local retailer got me thinking about how we all really stack up against our competitors?

We all have them and whether we admit it or not, they do bother most of us and they can cause real anxiety.

But the survey exercise we conducted showed how a competitor can help you make your business better, more profitable and bring in more customers.

How?

By knowing them better than you currently do.

Conducting some market research will help you to identify your competitive advantage and allow you to exploit or attack their deficiencies.

But market research and competitive analysis goes beyond “thinking” you can provide a better service or product. You need tangible and quantifiable “things” to measure your business against theirs.

There are a host of different tools available to help identify your competitive advantage through some market research such as Porter’s 5 Forces and PEST Analysis.

There are also a number of software packages available that monitor automatically your competitor’s online behaviour including pricing, social media use and SEO and marketing strategies.

But of course before you start looking at your competitor, you must first apply the same assessment criteria to your business so you can measure the differences.

For example, we recently helped a retail store in Noosaville with some market research by surveying their customers.

The exercise found that the retailer was preoccupied with price to compete with their competitors when in fact the level of after sales service was one of the top reasons that customers were choosing one store over another.

So by concentrating on selling the “after sales service” component during the initial sales process, within 3 months they had increased their pricing with zero resistance, and hence increased their GP and also saw their customer base grow.

Once you have run some market research and identified your competitive advantage, you will be amazed at how your perception of your competitor changes.

You will be comfortable with your place in the market and will look at your competitors as a way of identifying differences to be exploited.

Boardroom Business is the consulting and market research division of Boardrooms Australia Pty Ltd, owned by Anne and Steve Lawrence.

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