Identify Competitors to Your Micro-Entrepreneurial Business
Potential customers will either buy from your micro-entrepreneurial business or someone else. Identifying your business competitors helps you focus your marketing efforts and protect your existing client base. As you figure out who your competitors are and what makes them tick, keep in mind these points about them:
Take heed of your competitors’ marketing. Identify what their product or service is, and see how your product or service compares. Look to see how and where (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter) your competitors market. Study their advertising efforts so you can select the right advertising channels for you.
Know who your top three competitors are. With this information in mind, determine why your customers would choose them over you.
Recognize your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Figure out how you stack up against them. You can then figure out how you can offer the similar product or service better. You can also see if you can add any additional value to your product or service that your customers can’t.
Position your micro-entrepreneurial business against your competitors
As a micro-entrepreneur and owner of a small business working from home, you want to keep down your costs and overhead, so that you can offer some of that cost savings to your customers. Doing so gives you an advantage when you position your company against your larger competitors.
To better position yourself versus your competitors, get on the mailing and/or email list of all your competitors. By doing so, you can watch and learn how they market to their prospects and customers. With that information, you can see which strategies and tactics you want to embrace and emulate, and which strategies and tactics you want to reject.
Keep in mind that as you pick up one customer and then another, these customers (no matter how few) are valuable feedback for you. When people are actually spending money on what you offer, find out why. You may pick up reasons that may have not occurred to you.
If even one customer gives you some good reasons as to why he chose you, more than likely others are doing the same. Incorporate those reasons and information in your marketing and communication.
Stay updated on your customers’ actions with competitive analysis
Competitive analysis is just a fancy way of saying that you should know what your competitor is doing. The Internet can help you do so. In addition, here are some other things you can do to stay up-to-date with your competitors:
Set up a Google Alert. Google Alert is a free service that will alert you based on keywords you choose and when web pages with those keywords become publicly available and viewable.
For example, say that you sell gift baskets and you set up a Google Alert for the term “gift baskets”. Any time a new incident of that word shows up on a web page at a website or blog, you get alerted via email. You can then go to the site and see what’s happening.
Check on press releases. Many companies issue press releases to announce new developments and events. Regularly check their websites to stay updated on their activities. Also check active publicity directories such as PR Newswire and Market Wire for related press releases.
Track competitors for complaints or praise on popular consumer sites. You can check at consumer sites, such as Yelp, to find out about any complaints (or praise) about your competitors. You can change or improve your business practices to take advantage of these comments.
Use social media. Use Facebook and Twitter to see how your competitors are doing and learn from their successes and failures.
Use competitive intelligence websites. These websites track what your competitors are doing and provide you with data, such as sales and what keywords they’re using. Utilize sites such as iSpionage, Keyword Spy, and AdGooroo.
Turn competitors of your micro-entrepreneurial business into partners
The old saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them” may apply for you in your relationship with your competitors. Sometimes competitors are better off being turned into partners.
If you find that your competitor has a good product or service and that its superior marketing would be too difficult for you to overcome, then reconsider what you’re doing.
Ask yourself these questions to spur a possible partnering relationship with your competitors:
If my competitor has a great product or service, could I be better off simply selling its product or service and making a commission?
Could I sell my product or service in conjunction with my competitor in some way? (For example, if I want sell books and Amazon is my competition, why not sell my books on Amazon?)
Could my product or service be a good follow-up offering that could easily dovetail with my competitor’s offering? (My product could be good enough to use as a follow-up (or bounce-back) offer.)
Does my competitor’s offering have gaps or shortcomings that I can fill in with what I offer? (Every product has strengths and weaknesses, so look for a fit.)
Think seriously and creatively about these questions because joint ventures and other types of partnerships can result in greater success for your business in due course. Make sure you know as much possible about your competition through competitive analysis.