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If you own a small business, you must defend your marketplace position and maintain your competitive advantage. If you do not, other companies might take away your valued customers. So, what can you do to keep your best customers and ensure your business’s long-term growth? This Balboa Capital blog post has tips on how to stay ahead of the competition.
Know your competition.
Determining your key competitors should be part of your initial business plan, but it does not stop there. It would help if you kept a watchful eye on your competition and what they offer in terms of products and services. Doing this will help you create a unique selling proposition (USP) to help differentiate your business. Also, note what your competitors are doing with their marketing and advertising efforts.
These days, a new marketing campaign can be created and launched quickly, especially if it involves online media efforts such as pay-per-click advertising, public relations, social media, or a website redesign. If your competition begins marketing something that could reposition your business, such as an innovative new product or a special promotion, ensure you have the appropriate marketing strategies ready to protect your brand.
Know your customers.
You cannot run a successful small business without knowing your customers. Of course, you already know this, but are you aware that your customers’ needs and expectations can change over time? For example, lower prices, new products or services, and more flexible service can influence buying behavior, so always keep track of what matters 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 business’s social media efforts. Do not 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.
You cannot pick up a business or marketing book that does not have a chapter dedicated to strategic planning. Many of the same business planning strategies that large corporations use can 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 businesses do this to increase their efficiency and provide better customer service. But, again, consider equipment financing instead of making a big one-time cash purchase to conserve capital.
Look at your finances.
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 as low as possible.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.