When I was leading competitive intelligence for one of the businesses in Shell, it was relatively easy to identify competitors. In more niche markets, however, my clients have often informed me that they have no competitors. I advocate that this is a myth because every potential customer has an alternative in their minds when contemplating a purchase. Beating the competition means first identifying who they are. This is determined by those your customers consider to be competitors, as well as those you already know to be. Your customer may not have the same market knowledge as you do and therefore their choices may appear far wider and you will need to “build your case” against this wider range. Take the consultancy market as an example. This will include:-
1. Players in your market, even if not in your niche. Many suppliers have expanded their range of offerings and you find accountants and banks also offering consultancy as part of advisory services. Think supermarkets who are now offering insurance, banking and so much more. Your message needs to focus on your professional expertise, supported by bespoke tools, techniques and a reminder that they wouldn’t go to the hairdresser for a medical problem.
2. Consultancies who specialise in a target sector e.g. oil & gas may be unlikely to say “no” if approached by an “unknowing” customer to deliver to their logistics business. Your message should rely heavily on your own experience, supported with case studies.
3. Do it yourself. Finally every customer has the choice to build their own competency by developing their in-house capability or recruiting. In this instance, the message needs to focus on your service being better, faster and easier for them.
In Parts 2 and 3 I will cover how to develop your competitive strategy. I also plan to run a teleclass on this subject, giving the £5 registration fee to my Charity Women V. Cancer. If you wish to be notified of the teleclass details please complete the form below.
Future Forum Meetings
The Leadership Forum, 16th October, Ipswich – How to keep your customers
Highflyingdivas, 23rd October, London – hosted by Penna
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During the Olympics everyone talked about our wonderful community spirit. Everybody being good-natured and helping each other. We wondered how long it would last. Yet no-one has stipulated that we must revert to glaring at each other, puffed up with our own feelings of righteousness and/or feelings of superior importance. I have been disappointed to watch drivers speed menacingly past parked cars onto the opposite side of the road, and others blocking the only single lane causing traffic jams because of their “right of way”, even though they couldn’t progress. We wanted it to last and yet, no-one has taken away the opportunity for us to continue the goodwill to each other. Ultimately it is down to us to show that we can be kind to each other on an everyday basis not just on special occasions.