Knowing how your competitor’s work and who they are is a fundamental part of running any business. If you don’t know this, then it will be difficult, or even impossible, to differentiate yourself from them, and being different is the easiest way to persuade people to come to you rather than go to them. However, it is also important to know when you have the competitive advantage because when this happens, you know you are doing things right and can continue in the same way. Here are some of the best ways to know you’re heading in the right direction.
You Are Valuable
When you make yourself and your products valuable to a customer, you will certainly have the competitive edge. It doesn’t necessarily mean that those products or services, or your company in general, is more expensive than your competitors, however. In fact, the price won’t even be a factor if you can make yourself valuable, much like stock ratings are to many people.
In this case, valuable means that what you sell is worth something to your customer. If you can provide what they need (or want) with great customer service, they will be more likely to come to you rather than anyone else, plus they will tell other people about how much they enjoy using your company. This means your sales will increase.
You Are Rare
If you are doing something, selling something, or acting in a way that none or very few of your competitors do, then you will be considered much more special and unique. People like to shop in places that they feel offer them something different because they feel it is better value for money. Even if your products are at the high end, price-wise, the fact that it can’t be found elsewhere counts for a lot and will mean you make sales anyway.
You Are Inimitable
Many businesses may start out unique, but once competitors realize that they are selling well and making a profit, they may start to attempt to copy what you are doing. By making yourself inimitable (i.e., you and your products cannot be copied) you are giving yourself a huge competitive edge in the marketplace. It isn’t always easy to do this, which is why patents are potentially important if you think someone is going to steal your ideas. Speak to a lawyer about how you can protect your business in this way.
Alternatively, you could look at things a different way. If you have a special product that you don’t want anyone to copy, you should make sure that everyone knows about it. Make it the focus of your advertising, for example, and that way everyone will know that you created it or were selling it first, even if someone else did try to copy what you are doing.
Even if your product can’t be directly copied, you may find that your competitors are offering an alternative product. If this is the case, you will need to work out a way that shows how there is no substitute for your product. When you have done this; you will know you have the competitive edge.