10 Proven Strategies on How to Make Your Business Competitive

Mar 5, 2024
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10 Proven Strategies on How to Make Your Business Competitive

Maintaining a business is a constant battle, and staying competitive is akin to navigating a constantly changing maze. It demands agility, foresight, and innovation. 

This blog is your compass, guiding you through proven strategies to not just compete, but to excel in your industry. From understanding your market to leveraging the latest technology, we'll explore how you can elevate your business and achieve enduring success.

How To Make Your Business Competitive

Understand Your Market

The foundation of competitiveness lies in a deep understanding of your market. It's about peering beyond the obvious, uncovering hidden customer needs, and staying a step ahead of evolving trends. Regular market research, customer surveys, and competitor analysis should be staples in your strategic toolkit.

A SWOT analysis is an invaluable framework for assessing your organization's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats in relation to the market.

Here's how to conduct one:

  1. Identify Strengths: Start by pinpointing what your business excels at. Consider unique resources, competitive advantages, and areas where you outperform rivals. For instance, if your e-commerce platform utilizes cutting-edge AI for personalized shopping experiences, that's a strength in today's trend toward customization and automation.
  1. Acknowledge Weaknesses: Honestly recognize areas where your business may be lacking. This could include anything from gaps in your product line to inadequate customer service. In the context of the current emphasis on sustainability, a weakness might be the lack of eco-friendly products in your offerings.
  1. Spot Opportunities: Look for external chances to grow your business or improve performance. This could involve emerging market trends, shifts in consumer preferences, or regulatory changes. For example, the growing demand for remote work tools presents an opportunity for tech companies.
  1. Assess Threats: Identify factors that could pose challenges to your business. These might include new competitors, changes in market demand, or technological disruptions. The rapid advancement in technology, for instance, could threaten businesses that are slow to adapt.

To keep your finger on the pulse of the market, consider leveraging the following tools:

  • Google Trends: This tool allows you to monitor the popularity of search queries in Google across various regions and languages.
  • Social Listening Platforms: Tools like Brandwatch, Hootsuite, and Sprout Social enable you to track mentions of your brand, competitors, and industry trends on social media.
  • SEMRush: Primarily known for its SEO and SEM capabilities, SEMRush also offers features for market analysis, including competitor research, keyword tracking, and site audits. 
  • Ahrefs: While Ahrefs is widely used for SEO analysis, its capabilities also extend to market research through competitor analysis, backlink research, and keyword tracking. 

Market Research and Competitor Analysis

To conduct effective market research, you can employ a variety of methods. Surveys and questionnaires, delivered through platforms like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms, offer quantitative insights from a broad audience. For qualitative depth, focus groups and one-on-one interviews are invaluable, providing detailed feedback on customer perceptions and needs. 

Observational research, particularly in natural settings like stores, gives real-world insights into customer behavior. Utilizing social media and web analytics is crucial for understanding online trends and user interactions, while SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis helps in assessing your business's position in the market.

Competitor analysis, on the other hand, involves techniques like competitive benchmarking, where you compare your products, services, and strategies with those of direct competitors, using tools like SEMrush for digital insights. Porter’s Five Forces Analysis is effective for evaluating industry competitiveness. 

Additionally, engaging in product comparisons, financial analysis of public documents, and mystery shopping can reveal much about competitors’ operations. Monitoring competitors’ social media and patent filings offers insights into their customer engagement and future plans. Both market research and competitor analysis should be continuously updated and integrated across various business functions to ensure they inform actionable and strategic decisions.

Armed with this knowledge, craft strategies that are responsive to market demands. This means being nimble enough to pivot when necessary, ensuring your offerings remain relevant and desirable.

Leverage Technology for Efficiency

In the age of digital transformation, technology is not just an enabler but a multiplier of efficiency. Embracing tools like AI, machine learning, and cloud computing can revolutionize how you operate, reducing costs and boosting productivity. While change can be hurtful to some, change has proven to be a sign of progress. If you adapt well with technology - then you’re developing.

The true power of technology lies in its ability to turn data into actionable insights. Use analytical tools to understand customer behaviors, streamline operations, and make informed decisions that drive growth. For example, if you want to learn more about how your website is performing, you have to check your Google Analytics or any other tools that help you measure your Key Performance Indicators (KPI).

Another powerful role of technology in making your business competitive is automation. By leveraging the right software solutions, businesses can automate routine tasks, gain insights into customer behavior and inventory levels, and make informed decisions. 

By automating customer services, you can guarantee instant responses, 24/7 availability, personalized interactions, and scalability to individuals who interact with your business. Similarly, automating inventory management ensures real-time inventory tracking, streamlined order management, accurate demand forecasting, and efficient supplier management.

Several Software Recommendations on How To Make Your Business Competive

  • Zendesk: Offers a suite of customer service tools that include automated ticketing systems, AI-powered chatbots, and self-service options that can help streamline customer support processes.
  • Intercom: A conversational relationship platform that uses chatbots and automated messaging to provide personalized customer support and engagement.
  • NetSuite: A comprehensive business management suite that includes automated inventory management features, such as real-time tracking, demand planning, and efficient order management.
  • Zoho Inventory: Offers inventory control, order management, and purchase order automation, making it easier for businesses to manage their stock levels and fulfill orders efficiently.

Build a Strong Brand Identity

Your brand is your story – a narrative that should captivate and resonate with your audience. It's about creating an identity that's not only recognizable but also reflective of your core values and unique selling propositions.

Ensure your branding is consistently represented across all platforms – from your website to social media to customer service. This consistency builds brand equity, fostering a strong, loyal customer base.

Developing a unique brand voice and identity on how to make your business competitive involves several key steps:

How to make your business competitive? Start by embracing core values and a clear mission. This approach, as seen with Patagonia's commitment to environmental sustainability, attracts and retains a customer base that shares these beliefs, enhancing brand loyalty and competitiveness.

Understanding your audience is another key strategy in learning how to make your business competitive. By deeply knowing your customers, as Airbnb does with its adventure-seeking community, you can tailor your offerings and communication, resulting in greater satisfaction and loyalty. This personalized connection makes your business more competitive.

Developing a relatable brand persona and tone, much like Innocent Drinks, is essential in making your business competitive. A consistent and engaging persona makes your brand more accessible and builds a stronger connection with your audience, contributing to competitiveness.

A consistent visual identity, exemplified by Apple's minimalist design, reinforces brand recognition and supports your competitive edge. Aligning visual elements with your brand's voice ensures a cohesive experience that attracts and retains customers.

Finally, maintaining a distinctive voice across all channels, as Nike does with its motivational messaging, is vital for coherent and impactful communication. Adapting the tone for different platforms while keeping it recognizable strengthens your brand's emotional connection with the audience, making your business competitive.

By focusing on these strategies and repeatedly emphasizing how to make your business competitive, you'll create a strong, appealing brand that stands out in a crowded market.

More key steps on how to make your business competitive?

Engaging Storytelling: Utilizing storytelling, similar to Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, to emotionally connect with your audience can significantly enhance brand perception. Storytelling not only humanizes your brand but also allows for deeper engagement by resonating with the personal experiences and aspirations of your audience. Dove’s campaign challenges beauty stereotypes, promoting inclusivity and self-esteem, which aligns with its brand values and fosters a positive community.

Adaptation and Engagement: Adapting your brand voice based on audience interaction, as demonstrated by Wendy’s playful social media presence, shows responsiveness and personality. This approach encourages engagement, making your brand more relatable and memorable. Wendy's ability to interact with its audience through humor and timely responses has set a new standard for brand communication on social media, leading to increased visibility and engagement.

Employee Advocacy: When employees embody and advocate for your brand values, it not only enhances the customer experience but also strengthens the brand from within. Zappos' commitment to customer happiness through outstanding service has become a hallmark of its brand identity, showcasing the power of aligning employee advocacy with brand values.

Unique Content Strategy: Developing a content strategy should reflect your brand’s unique perspective and value proposition, helping to distinguish your content in a crowded marketplace. Red Bull's focus on extreme sports and adventure aligns with its brand image, engaging its target audience with content that excites and inspires.

Trademark Elements: These elements become synonymous with your brand, evoking specific feelings and memories in your audience. They serve as a shorthand for your brand identity, making your products or services more memorable and distinctive in the marketplace. Coca-Cola's scripted font and McDonald's "I'm lovin' it" jingle are powerful tools in their branding arsenal, instantly recognizable and capable of evoking a sense of nostalgia and familiarity.

The essence is to be authentic, consistent, and in tune with your audience's preferences, while being open to evolution.

A sales representative or preferably a virtual assistant utilizing AI tools in her work.

Prioritize Customer Experience

In a competitive market, customer experience can be your biggest differentiator. It’s about creating not just satisfied customers, but enthusiastic brand advocates. This involves understanding and anticipating their needs and consistently delivering exceptional service.

Establish mechanisms to regularly collect and analyze customer feedback. One effective way is by implementing Net Promoter Feedback (NPS) Surveys.  

These surveys are a straightforward way to measure customer loyalty by asking one simple question: "On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our product/service to a friend or colleague?" 

Based on their responses, customers are categorized into:

  • Promoters (9-10), 
  • Passives (7-8) and, 
  • Detractors (0-6).

Use this feedback to refine your offerings and customer service approach. Remember, in the realm of customer experience, there is always room for improvement.

Utilizing AI is a game-changer when it comes to improving customer experience. AI and machine learning can analyze a vast amount of data to uncover deep insights into individual customer preferences and behaviors. This enables businesses to personalize experiences in real time, offering recommendations, content, and support tailored to each customer's unique needs. 

Personalization can manifest through customized product suggestions, targeted marketing messages, dynamically adjusted website content, and AI-powered customer service chatbots. Continuous updates to AI models ensure personalization remains relevant and effective.

Innovate Marketing Tactics

We are now bombarded with advertising, so your marketing needs to cut through the noise. This requires thinking outside the box - exploring unconventional channels, experimenting with new formats, and personalizing your messaging. If it’s not working, fix it!

Shift the focus from mere exposure to meaningful engagement. Utilize social media, content marketing, and targeted advertising to engage with your audience on a deeper level. Remember, a strong connection with your audience is more valuable than wide but shallow exposure. Don’t stop saturating the market until everyone knows about you!

A salesperson looking at a computer.

One proven tactic to improve marketing performance is leveraging user-generated content (UGC) as it boosts your brand’s authenticity which, in turn, builds trust and deepens engagement with customers.

How to Leverage Effectively?

  • Encourage Sharing: Motivate your customers to share their experiences with your products or services on social media, using specific hashtags or by tagging your brand.
  • Feature UGC: Highlight user-generated content on your own social media channels, website, or advertising materials.
  • Run Contests or Campaigns: Create contests or campaigns that encourage users to submit their own content related to your brand, rewarding the best entries.
  • Provide Incentives: Offer incentives such as discounts, freebies, or public recognition to encourage more customers to create and share content about your brand.
  • Engage with Creators: Actively engage with those who post content about your brand by liking, commenting, and sharing their posts.

Recently, micro-influencer partnerships are gaining more prominence in promoting business brands. With an audience of 10,000 to 100,000 followers, micro-influencers maintain stronger, more personal relationships with their audience resulting in higher engagement rates compared to their macro counterparts.

Here are several advantages when partnering with micro-influencers:

  • Higher Engagement Rates: Micro-influencers have a personal connection with their audience, leading to more meaningful interactions and a greater impact on consumer behavior.
  • Niche Targeting: They specialize in specific niches, allowing brands to reach targeted segments of the market more effectively and with messages that resonate.
  • Authenticity and Trust: Micro-influencers are perceived as more authentic and trustworthy, making their endorsements more influential among their followers.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Collaborations with micro-influencers are generally more affordable than those with larger influencers, offering a higher return on investment for marketing budgets.
  • Increased Conversion Rates: The genuine nature of micro-influencer recommendations can lead to higher conversion rates, as followers are more likely to trust and act on their advice.

Embrace Adaptability and Continuous Learning

The ability to adapt quickly to market changes is a key competitive advantage. Foster a culture of agility and flexibility within your organization, encouraging innovation and responsiveness.

In a rapidly evolving business environment, continuous learning is critical. Invest in training and development for your team, and stay abreast of industry trends and best practices. Virtudesk’s annual events and free training for every new hire are just some of the ways we embrace adaptability and continuous learning. This ongoing investment in knowledge is essential for long-term competitiveness.

Here are some reputable platforms and courses that are highly regarded for upskilling in digital marketing, data analysis, and industry-specific technologies:

How to Make Your Business Competitive - Build a Professional Network

Building and maintaining a robust professional network is crucial. It opens doors to new opportunities, insights, and collaborations. Actively engage with industry peers, join professional groups, and attend networking events.

Utilize your network not just for personal gain, but as a means to create value for others. This reciprocal approach fosters stronger, more meaningful connections that can pay dividends in the long run.

Attend Industry Events

Industry events are invaluable for staying connected and informed. They provide a platform for learning about emerging trends, meeting industry leaders, and showcasing your business. Approach these events with a strategic mindset. Set goals, whether it's learning, networking, or promoting your business. Make the most of these opportunities to elevate your business profile.

Several images of industry events attended by the Virtudesk managerial team.

Offer Help to Others

Offering help to others can establish you as a knowledgeable and reliable figure in your industry. This isn't just about altruism; it's a strategic approach to building trust and reputation. By helping others, you contribute to a supportive business ecosystem. This can lead to unexpected opportunities and collaborations, fostering a network of mutual support and growth.

1. Guest Blogging

  • Expertise Sharing: Enhances your reputation as an expert by sharing knowledge with a new audience.
  • Networking & Visibility: Builds professional relationships and increases visibility on established platforms.
  • SEO Benefits: Improves search engine ranking through backlinks.

2. Hosting Webinars

  • Direct Engagement: Facilitates real-time interaction with your audience which is invaluable for building trust and credibility.
  • Showcase Expertise: Demonstrates your in-depth knowledge and thought leadership in real time.
  • Lead Generation: Attracts attendees who are interested in the business's offerings, which can later be nurtured into paying customers.
  • Cost-Effective: Reaches a global audience without the high costs of physical events.

3. Conducting Workshops

  • Hands-On Learning: Provides impactful, experiential learning for participants.
  • Relationship Building: Fosters closer connections with industry peers and potential clients, offering a more intimate setting for engagement than larger conferences or seminars.
  • Brand Enhancement: Strengthens your personal or company brand as a valuable industry contributor.
  • Direct Feedback: Offers immediate feedback, helping you understand audience needs to better meet market demands.

Each of these methods, by offering genuine value, not only establishes your industry authority but also opens doors to new collaborations and growth opportunities.

Practice Effective Communication

Effective communication is the cornerstone of successful relationships – both within your team and with external stakeholders and essential on how to make your business competitive. It involves clarity, empathy, and active listening. Tailor your communication to suit different contexts – be it negotiating with a partner, motivating your team, or engaging with customers. A versatile communication approach can significantly enhance your business interactions.

Creating effective feedback loops within teams and with clients is crucial for continuous improvement and maintaining healthy relationships. Here are a few methods to establish these loops:

  • Regular Meetings: Hold structured yet open meetings with teams and clients for continuous feedback and discussion.
  • Anonymous Feedback Tools: Use anonymous surveys or suggestion boxes to encourage honest and uninhibited feedback from team members.
  • 360-Degree Feedback: Implement a system where feedback comes from all directions – superiors, peers, and subordinates – to get a holistic view.
  • Client Feedback Forms: Post-project or milestone feedback forms help gather client insights on performance and areas for improvement.
  • Actionable Feedback: Make sure feedback is specific and actionable, leading to clear steps for improvement.
  • Feedback Follow-Up: Act on the feedback received and communicate back how it's being implemented to show its value.
  • Regular Performance Reviews: Conduct performance reviews based on agreed objectives to provide structured feedback.
  • Feedback Training: Offer training on effective feedback giving and receiving to build a positive feedback culture.
  • Digital Collaboration Tools: Use tools like Slack, Trello, or Asana for ongoing, transparent communication and feedback.
  • Celebrate and Learn: Encourage a culture where successes are celebrated, and failures are seen as learning opportunities.

These methods help create a productive feedback loop within teams and with clients, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

Regularly Update Your Network

Regular updates keep your network informed about your business's progress and achievements. Utilize platforms like LinkedIn and business newsletters to share updates, insights, and success stories. Strike a balance between sharing professional news and personal insights. This humanizes your business and builds a more relatable, authentic connection with your network.

A LinkedIn profile networking with other professionals in the field.

The Importance of Research and Development

Research and development (R&D) plays a critical role on how to make your business competitive. It's about investing in innovation, whether in product development, service enhancement, or operational efficiency.

R&D shouldn't be seen as a mere expense but as a long-term investment. It’s about planting seeds for future growth, staying ahead of the technological curve, and continuously improving your offerings.

Budgeting Effectively for R&D:

  • Strategic Alignment: Budget for R&D projects that align with your long-term strategic goals, ensuring that they contribute to future growth and technological leadership.
  • Risk and Reward Analysis: Since R&D involves uncertainty, balance your portfolio with a mix of high-risk, potentially high-reward projects and safer, incremental innovations.
  • Flexible and Adaptive Budgeting: Given the unpredictable nature of R&D, adopt a flexible approach to budgeting. Be prepared to reallocate funds as projects evolve and new opportunities emerge.
  • Long-term Commitment: Recognize that R&D payoffs often materialize over a longer horizon. Budget for ongoing research, not just one-off projects, to ensure sustained innovation.
  • Resource Allocation: Allocate sufficient resources, including skilled personnel, cutting-edge technology, and time, to support your R&D objectives effectively.
  • Collaborative and Open Innovation: Consider partnerships with academic institutions, research consortia, or other companies to share costs and risks while broadening your innovation potential.

Measuring ROI of R&D:

  • Broaden ROI Metrics: Include both tangible and intangible metrics. Tangible metrics could be revenue from new products, cost savings, or efficiency improvements. Intangible metrics might include enhanced brand reputation, knowledge development, or improved customer satisfaction.
  • Long-Term Evaluation: Evaluate the ROI of R&D over an extended period. Immediate financial gains might not capture the full value of R&D investments which often unfold over years.
  • Market Success Indicators: Track the success of products or services developed through R&D in the market. Metrics could include sales growth, market share increase, or customer acquisition rates.
  • Learning and Improvement: Evaluate how R&D projects contribute to organizational learning and continuous improvement. This might include new skills acquired by the team or process enhancements.
  • Post-Project Analysis: Conduct thorough reviews after project completion to assess success against original goals, learning from both successes and failures.
  • Continuous Monitoring and Adjustment: Implement an ongoing monitoring system to assess the progress and impact of R&D projects, allowing for timely adjustments.

Embarking on this journey on how to make your business competitive requires a multifaceted approach. It's about understanding and responding to your market, embracing technological advancements, building a resonant brand, prioritizing customer experience, innovating in marketing, and maintaining agility and a learning mindset. Incorporate these strategies into your business, and watch as your enterprise not only competes but sets new benchmarks in your industry.

Many feel that it is a daunting task, you’re not alone. Several business owners felt that, too. They have found that a virtual assistant can assist in focusing on elevating their business. Here is a helpful e-book to make you kick off a virtual assistant team. You can also connect with us to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can small businesses outsmart larger competitors in the market?

Small businesses can outsmart larger competitors by focusing on niche markets, offering personalized customer service, and being agile in response to market changes. Leveraging local community engagement and utilizing innovative, cost-effective marketing strategies can also provide a competitive edge.

What role does digital transformation play on how to make your business competitive?

Digital transformation enhances business competitiveness by streamlining operations, improving customer experiences through personalized services, and enabling access to broader markets via digital platforms. It also fosters innovation and efficiency, reducing costs and improving decision-making with data analytics.

How can developing a strong Brand Identity influence business competitiveness?

A strong brand identity builds customer trust and loyalty, differentiates the business from competitors, and communicates the company's values and mission. It helps in attracting and retaining customers, thereby influencing competitiveness positively.

In what ways can customer feedback be leveraged to boost competitiveness?

Customer feedback can be leveraged to improve products and services, tailor offerings to meet customer needs and enhance customer satisfaction. Implementing feedback demonstrates that a business values its customers, leading to increased loyalty and a competitive advantage.

What strategies can businesses use to effectively utilize their professional networks to increase competitiveness?

Businesses can use their professional networks to gain industry insights, access business opportunities, form strategic partnerships, and enhance their reputation. Networking can also provide access to resources and knowledge that can drive innovation and competitive advantage.

How important is research and development (R&D) in maintaining a competitive business?

R&D is crucial for maintaining competitiveness as it drives innovation, leading to the development of new products and services and the improvement of existing offerings. It enables businesses to stay ahead of market trends, meet evolving customer needs, and differentiate themselves from competitors.

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