Thursday, August 18, 2016

How to use competition to build better business: Scout your competition

Months or days before a gruesome season, the Florida State Seminole football team studies tapes and videos of the biggest competition known to college sports. The team comes together to strategize in a modest, open room that is packed with dreams and a projector. <#NAME> is planning the perfect defense against Clemson, <#NAME> wants to know which play will outsmart the swamp. The excitement of future victory fills the air.

We can think of marketing your small business by studying your competition in the same way that your favorite football team prepares for the biggest game of the season. Meticulous marketing and smart strategies will set you apart from the competition in no time.

Together, a plan takes your business from a budding dream to fully-realized reality. One of the best ways to build better, stronger, faster business is by analyzing habits that work in your category. You can learn a lot about yourself by studying the similar history of your competition.

First, we must learn about the competition. Like the ACC and SEC divides teams by location, we will break apart similar businesses by city or state. We need to go to regionals before we can go to nationals.

  1. Do a quick Google search for your own relevant key terms. This search will take less than five minutes and teach you a ton about the competition. Try searching for someone in your business category or sub-category. Staying with Seminole’s football, general category would be “college sports” and the sub-category would be “football.” Generally speaking, the category is a broad collection while the sub-category is more targeted and specific.

  2. Through an online search, choose three to five similar businesses whom you can go head-to-head against on a friendly level. These businesses will be similar to you. If you want to reach for the stars, model yourself after someone you aspire to be like with your future goals.

  3. Now, find parts of their practices that you especially like. LinkedIn Influencers are a good source of business role-models. I like how Mark Cuban makes links between sports and business, don’t you? Once you have identified the competition, find ways in which your product or service offerings are similar.
  4. Do you want to be alike, or different? Let’s start with the similarities you could share with your top competition. Look and see which colors they use in their brand identity. For instance, fast food companies Burger King, McDonalds, Red Robbin, Jack in the Box, Whataburger and Hardee’s all use red and yellow in their marketing materials or logo. Judging by this trend, it might be a good time to follow the crowd and join in to the color scheme.
  5. However, Taco Bell sets itself apart by using the color purple. Since no other fast food chain lives as “boldly”, when you see purple you know you are getting something different. This color-choice complements their overall message: taco bell breaks the chain or normalcy with a different combination of tacos from the predictable burger.
  6. This about this for a moment. Ask yourself: Is your business fundamentally different from your competition, like Taco Bell, or are you more of a blending Burger King? Here is one instance where scoping out the competition helps you with your own identity.
Finding the similarities between you and your competition is one way to become better in your own business habits. Studying the competition is like having a free trial campaign without risk. The work has been put out there, and you are ready to look at how it acts in real-time. Better business habits, like the strong muscles of a winning athlete, get refined over time and competition.

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