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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dealing With Competition - 7

As stated before, it is best to enter into a niche market where competition is minimal. However, if this cannot be accomplished or the unavoidable influx of new businesses increases the number of competitors within your small corner of the industry, you must be prepared to compete and win.

This involves a familiarity with all your major competitors so that you can clearly promote your own business directly against theirs.

KNOW YOUR COMPETITION WELL

Knowing your competition is the first step in outselling or outperforming them. You may not need to keep tabs on every single company that participates in the same area of the industry as you, since some of these will be small businesses that make several of the mistakes we’ve previously discussed and fall off the radar quickly. However, you should keep a close eye on heavy competitors, usually the top three or four at least.

This will keep you abreast of what you need to do to better your own business and make sure that consumers know why they are choosing your goods and services over the others.

Who are they? – Who are the big players across the industry? Out of these, who pose a competitive threat to your niche market? How many of them are there, and how well established are they in the industry?

Are they branded, and are their offerings well known within the market where you are attempting to break in? Asking yourself these questions will lead you to the research information that will help you keep tabs on who is in the game with you.

How do you hold up by comparison? – Know the product or service of the competitor and how customers perceive the business. Do they excel at customer service? Is their offering larger or better than yours? How do you compare in terms of quality, pricing, and presence on the Internet? The way that your site is set up can have a huge impact on the perception of a visiting potential customer.

Take the time to view the websites of your competitors so that you can get a feel for what they offer, how the site is set up, and how user friendly it is. Yours should not necessarily be flashy or gaudy, but it should be colorful and attractive, and you always want the website advertising your Internet niche business to be as user friendly as possible so that the customer can easily navigate and find anything they need.

What do you have that they don’t? – Finally, compare your site to theirs and your offerings to those of the competition. Look for sales points – things that you can advertise having that the competition doesn’t. In the example of the pet vitamin business, perhaps you have a multivitamin that contains a specific ingredient that the competition doesn’t offer.

Maybe you offer a discount for bulk ordering or free shipping for items over a certain dollar amount, which your competitor has not offered. All of these are potential sales points for your business that point to why a customer should choose you over the competition. However, unless you know your competitor inside and out, you’ll find it quite difficult to sale against them

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