If you own a small business, you need to defend your position in the marketplace and maintain your competitive advantage. If you don’t, other companies might end up taking away your valued customers. So, what can you do to keep your best customers, and ensure your company’s long-term growth? This Balboa Capital blog post has three tips on how to stay ahead of the competition.

Know your competition

Determining who your key competitors are should be part of your initial business plan, but it doesn’t stop there. You should keep a watchful eye on your competition… and what they are offering in terms of products and services. This will help you create a unique selling proposition (USP) to help differentiate your business. Also make a note of what your competitors are doing with their marketing efforts.

These days, a new marketing campaign can be created and launched quickly, particularly if it involves online media efforts such as pay-per-click advertising, social media or a website redesign. If your competition begins marketing something that could actually reposition your business, such as an innovative new product or a special promotion, make sure you have the appropriate marketing strategies ready to protect your brand.

Know your customers

You can’t run a successful company without knowing who your customers are. You already know this, but are you aware that your customers’ needs and expectations can change over time? Lower prices, new products or services, and more flexible service can all influence buying behavior, so always keep track of the things that matter most to your customers. You can do this by watching sales trends, testing special offers, implementing pricing strategies, and engaging with your customers online through your company’s social media efforts.

Don’t be afraid to ask your customers questions about their needs and expectations. They see this as a positive because their answers may be used to improve a brand they are already passionate about and trust – yours. Balboa Capital has received lots of video testimonials from our satisfied customers, and we created a section on our website to showcase them.

Plan ahead

You can’t pick up a business or marketing book that doesn’t have a chapter dedicated to planning. Many of the same business planning strategies that the large corporations use can also benefit small businesses like yours. In addition to setting monthly and quarterly sales goals, keep abreast of developments in your field and follow consumer trends. You can also plan for success by investing in new business equipment or technology. Many small and mid-sized companies do this to increase their efficiency and provide a higher level of customer service.

Lastly, never underestimate the importance of financial planning. Develop and maintain an accurate profit-and-loss statement for each month of the year, and prepare a long-range financial plan of up to five years. Eliminate unnecessary spending and do things to keep your operational expenses at a minimum.