In the many years now that I’ve spent running a business, I’ve learned how to handle competitors in business without letting ’em get to you.
It’s an important thing to master as an entrepreneur, because no matter what niche you’re in, you’ll never really find yourself without competition.
So let’s think about what competition is for a minute…
For me, it brings up images of the Olympics, arm wrestling, and choosing between 2 giant soft drink companies (huh?).
But you might have a totally different vision that comes to mind when you think of that word. And that’s ok.
The important thing is what you do when you’re confronted with it…especially when your livelihood is at stake.
I actually love competition & here’s why:
A few years ago, I was surprised to find out that “competition” is one of my strengths according to the Strength Finder methodology…
It was surprising because I don’t consider myself to be aggressive, to want to elbow people out of my way, or to trash talk. And that’s something that we commonly think of in terms of competition.
And while we can philosophize all day about what makes competition good or bad…here’s what I want to stress, what I really love that competition does to us: it makes us all better.
Take, for example, the computer, phone, or tablet that you’re using to read this article right now…
If it wasn’t for a few different device manufacturers going head to head in the marketplace, you’d still be using a clunker. It wouldn’t be as beautifully designed, it wouldn’t be as fast and as affordable as it is, and it probably wouldn’t do as much as it can for you.
When faced with competition, we find new ways to improve something that used to be the “best” thing around.
Trying Harder To Become Extraordinary
So what makes competition so powerful, and how can YOU take advantage of your own competition to do better in your business?
Competition makes us try harder, because we’re faced with two options: (a) keep improving our masterpieces, or (b) lose customers to someone who’s taken that extra step.
Competition urges us to cherish our customers more, and treat them better. It helps give us the strength and motivation to be innovative and come up with new ideas that can disrupt the marketplace.
In short, when there’s competition you can’t rest on your laurels.
And that’s good news for your clients.
In fact, it’s good news for you as a member of the AccessAlly® community, too because it means that we’re constantly developing new features, integrations, and making things better.
We’re constantly listening to our tribe to learn what you need…and then diving into the development side to make sure our products actually solve those needs.
But For The Quiet Entrepreneurs, It Can Be Tough!
Sounds great, in theory…
…But what if you’re like me, and you have a gentle approach to business? How can you tell the world that what you’re doing is innovative, that it’s going to help your clients, and that it’s different from all the other options in your category?
How To Handle Competitors In Business
First of all, drop the idea that “competition” means you have to run the rat race like everyone else. Because it totally does NOT mean that!
Instead, I’ve got 4 suggestions for you to start with:
Engage with your existing fans and clients
It’s so easy to be chasing down new leads and markets, but you gotta appreciate what you have right in front of you. When you treat your existing audience and customers like gold, they’re more likely to spread the word for you.
How We Do It:
One way we’re doing that at AccessAlly® is to showcase our clients. If you’ve built something cool using PopupAlly Pro and AccessAlly, we’d LOVE to have you send us a screenshot and a link to your site so we can highlight your awesomeness. (Contact us here!)
Talk about why you do what you do, and how you’re different
This one can be tricky, because you might be sick of hearing yourself repeat your story, why you created your business, and how you’re different from the competition.
But it’s so important to repeat it ad-nauseum until people start to say it FOR you! Until they start doing that, you can be pretty sure it hasn’t really sunk in. So make good use of your mission statement, and make sure it stands out bold and proud!
How We Do It:
At AccessAlly® we design intuitive software for ambitious business owners.
We’re putting the power of technology in the hands of women business owners, so they can succeed even if they’re not super tech savvy because we believe that empowered women are changing the world. Everything we create helps our clients earn more, and stand out in the marketplace.
That’s our mission…and we’re sticking to it!
Show, don’t tell people what you can do for them
Even though you need to repeatedly tell people your mission, you can’t expect them to automatically understand what it means for them specifically.
So use case studies, interviews, and concrete examples of the work you’re providing. Think in images, screenshots, videos… Anything that provides a contrast between your work and the competition’s work.
How We Do It:
We love asking for testimonials from our clients, because it really does show how our products can make a difference in a very concrete, practical way.
Here’s one that I love from one of our PopupAlly Pro clients:
“Other popups have little in the way of customizing design, and the fixed timer makes it annoying to my readers. With PopupAlly Pro, I can keep the pop-up’s design on-brand (thus being less intrusive), and with the exit-intent function, my readers only get the pop-up when they move their mouse to close the tab. My sign-ups are up from 10 a day to 30 a day! Genius!” – Livia Farkas
Be there when they’re looking for you
You can have the best service or product in the world, but if no one knows you exist, your competition is going to win by default.
Make sure that you have strong search engine optimization for your main keywords, and show up in the places that your people usually hang out in. That might mean you do some guest posts, podcast interviews, or be present in Facebook groups.
How We DIDN’T Do It!
Definitely learning from mistakes here!
When we released our ProgressAlly plugin (now a part of our AccessAlly Pro plugin), we initially marketed it for a keyword that (turns out) no one was really searching for.
It took a while for us to realize that we had to re-market it for what it was able to offer: a membership site complete with a learning management system plugin for WordPress.
So now we’re fixing our mistake, but it would have saved so much time to do extra research on the important words people use to find your products and services… so important!
How Are You Going To Handle Competition To Improve Your Business?
Now it’s time for you to look at your business and how you can take advantage of the competition in your market.
Competition is great, because it’s an indicator that there’s a need in the marketplace and that people are happily spending money to solve their problems.
Always look at it as something positive, not negative!
Oh, and don’t be afraid to announce it to the world when you’ve got something important to say!
Example: We recently released one of my favorite features EVER for our AccessAlly Pro LMS plugin… the new feature automatically generates a Certificate of Completion for your students the moment they complete a course or pass a quiz!
…but even though this is an awesome feature that also blows our competition out of the water … I didn’t make a ton of noise about it when it was first released. There’s always room for growth!
See…sometimes I need to tap into that gentle competition side a little more myself! 🙂