6 Tips to Help Your Small Business Stay Competitive

Man sitting at a picnic table typing on a laptop with his phone and a small black leather bound book sitting on the table next to him.

I have never met a business owner who didn’t want to win more business. I HAVE met a number of consultants, and marketing gurus who claim to know a magic formula for ultimate market dominance. If you ever hear advice that sounds something like a silver bullet solution, run. Your squandered marketing budget will be the only thing you can remember (and maybe the dude’s trendy haircut).

Every business, brand, audience, and market is unique.

To grow your business, focus on becoming and staying competitive. Focus on improving your service, your products, your customer experience, your marketing, your brand — your business.

Here are six (non-magical) tips to help you stay competitive in today’s market.

#1 Leverage technology for more efficient marketing strategies.

This does not mean focus on the latest tools to do your marketing. Always start by looking at your goals you’re trying to accomplish and who you are trying to reach. Then choose the best tools for the job. When you choose a tool before you know what you’re trying to accomplish, you might end up mowing your lawn with a weed-eater. If you started with what you wanted to accomplish (mowing your lawn) you would have known the best choice is a lawn mower. 

#2 Never stop learning.

Use websites like Quora.comEntrepreneur.comMashable.comBusinessInsider.com, or Fastcompany.com to get ideas from fellow entrepreneurs and successful business leaders. Soak up the wisdom from as many experienced business owners as you can.

#3 Never stop improving your service or products.

Think about how you can alter your products or services in order to appeal to a broader market or a new market vertical. Do you make use of regular customer feedback? Do perform client surveys or reviews? Listening to your current customers is an easy and effective way to discover what’s working and what’s not. Whatever you do, never stop improving your product and services.

Woman sitting on a couch at night staring at her laptop screen

#4 Consider expanding the number of online channels you use for reaching customers.

Again, don’t expand this number just for the sake of expanding this number. I see too many businesses go out and start a Tumblr, get on Snapchat, run sponsored Instagram ads, or post some Vines without any goal or purpose just because it’s new and hot. There are online channels that just won’t make sense for your business and that’s okay. But, I encourage you to get creative and think outside of the box by considering channels that DO make sense for your company that you are currently not using.

Try something new. Ensure your website is optimized for search engines and educate yourself about SEO. Try blogging! Create content your customers would be interested in and make use of modern inbound marketing tactics. Do you have a loyalty program? How can you make a digital iteration of this? Business owners are drowning in information about this topic right now, so my advice to you is start by defining your goals and audience, then choose your tools and start to research.

#5 Try email marketing.

No, it’s not new, it’s not trendy, but it works. This relates to point number one. Instead of more expensive traditional print advertising, try email! Despite what some digital “gurus” might tell you, email marketing is still alive and well and is one of the most effective and efficient channels available to a business today. Again, consider your target audience and ask yourself if email marketing makes sense. If your customer demographics include many Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers, email might be a great way to keep in touch with and reach new customers.

#6 Do some competitive research.

At the end of the day, you can get a lot of great ideas by simply watching your competitors. These ideas will come from what they are getting right, AND where you see they are missing the mark. How are they winning new business in ways you have not thought of? Are they making any significant moves? What market segments are they overlooking or missing that you can take advantage of?

So, there you go. No magic formulas, no silver bullets, just hard work. Something I know you are familiar with if you own a business. The key here is continue experimenting and analyzing the results. Rinse and repeat. Try a couple of these out and let us know how it goes!

Enjoy your work today.

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