Be noticed, stay nimble, and get customers.
If you want to start your own business in a field with a lot of contenders, or you’re the company that has had competition crop up around them like weeds, take note. Here are some great ways to keep your company agile in a changing market place, and get above the crowd to get noticed.
1. Focus on End User Experience
In January of 2007, nobody had heard of an iPhone; but 6 months later, nobody hadn’t. Apple didn’t release the first cell phone, or the first smart phone, or even the first touch screen; and they certainly didn’t invent apps. Virtually nothing about the iPhone was unique except that the company obviously cared about the users of the phone. They tailored an experience that was all about the user: they made it pretty, fool-proof, and backed it up with customer care that worked.
2. Be Something
You should be cheaper, closer, cleaner, and smarter than your competitors, but those things don’t make you’re company truly unique. Your company needs to be something. Many companies are becoming more charitable, doing things like donating a pair of shoes to the needy for every pair bought, or donating a portion of every purchased meal to a particular charity. Your company can organize events, clean-up days; encourage your employees to give back to the community, and in turn your company will get noticed and be known for something.
3. Don’t Outsource Too Much
For a small company it’s easy to spread yourself too thin. There are some things you should definitely outsource (like legal matters), but you should keep as much as you can as close to you as possible. Invest in tax and accounting software that will help you keep accounting resources in the office. If your company uses graphics heavily for advertising or for your actual business, invest in Adobe’s cloud suite to save time and money in completing jobs. The more you can keep in-house, the quicker you will be able to shift and adapt to the changing needs of customers, the volatility of the market, and the evolving techniques of the competition.
4. Be Socially Aware
Your company has an online presence, whether you manage it or not. Services like Yelp, Google Places, and CitySearch allow users to search and leave reviews for businesses, tipping off other customers of perks and drawbacks of the company. You need to be active in creating a positive social presence for yourself. Respond to reviewers, both negative and positive, personally—and with as much warmth and humor as you can manage. Create a Twitter account and a Facebook page to spread the news on promotions and deals and company activity.
5. Don’t Bash the Competition
As you start your business or as others around you begin theirs in your field, two things will happen. Companies will criticize you, and customers will as well. You should respond to criticism and try to address issues that your customers have, but you should never bash the competition; bringing their name into the discussion is nothing but free advertising. If you have to respond specifically about a competitor, address the issue as positively as possible.
Tara Wagner is a staff writer for TechBreach. She has worked from home for over a decade, and loves sharing news and advice with fellow telecommuting moms and dads. She’s fascinated by new tech and new ideas; and when she finds time to unplug, she enjoys long hikes in the mountains near her home. She lives in Denver.