The Extra Step: How To Best Your Competitors’ Marketing Efforts
16 Apr, 2015 |
You can do your business as well as the next guy, cover all your basis, put out a quality product and provide your customers with premium service, but ultimately you will come to the conclusion that what you’ve been told is 100% true – marketing matters. A lot.
You may like it or hate it, but one thing you can be sure of is that your competitors are doing everything within their means to separate themselves from the pack and establish themselves as the golden standard within their market/community. Today more than ever marketing is an integral part of any quality business plan, and just as much as you care about the standard of your service you need to make sure that your marketing efforts are up to par.
Of course, there are only 24 hours in a day, and money is always tight, but neglecting the promotional aspect of your business is one sure way to bury it into the ground. Make peace with the fact that it is necessary, and set about doing it the best possible way.
Know your competition
Marketing is a game you play to win, and grabbing your share of the market is not going to be easy. If you wish to overcome your competitors, you will need to pay close attention to what they are doing. Take note of what they are doing right, and also try to seek out anything they might be doing wrong. In this day and age promotion is conducted on many diverse levels, from your visual identity and overall message to choosing the channels over which you will spread it. Let’s take a look at each of those aspects.
The Identity of Your Brand
Try to think about the specific qualities of your business. What type of cuisine dominates your menu? What type of “atmosphere” are you going for (think “modern”, “traditional”, “homely”, “innovative”, etc.)? What type of clientele do you envision (young, older, families, business people…)? Even if you’re a general, all around restaurant, you still need to find your niche and position yourself as a unique entity on the market. Catering to “everyone” simply won’t cut it.
Once you find the answers to those questions (and many more we have neglected to ask) you have to streamline everything – from your logo to the interiors with all of their elements – into a clear and striking package that reflects your core values and intentions. All the elements need to fall in line to form an identity that is clearly positioned on the market.
The key to attracting customers is filling a gap on the market. The key to maintaining them is meeting, and hopefully exceeding their expectations. Your primary focus is and should be the quality of your product and your service. Basically, do your job and you have yourself a nice starting platform.
There are many things businesses can do to solidify their brand, but ultimately it comes down to sending a positive message to the community. Whether it’s aligning yourself with other successful and respectable businesses, taking an active part in the community through carefully selected sponsorships (think supporting a local sports team or sponsoring a young talent), charitable work or community events. Think about what you believe in and what you’re passionate about, and whichever choice you make do your best to let the public know all about your activities.
No revolutionary advice here. Formulating a marketing strategy is largely dependant on the specific nature of your business as well as the market in which you operate, and there are no universal rules here. Assuming your competitors are doing their job, you will need to find a way to stand out. You need to give your potential clients a specific reason to come to you and not your competitors. Identify (or create) a quality that separates you from the pack, and insist on it. Don’t be afraid to be daring and let your voice be heard, just make sure that your message is consistent with the overall image you are trying to achieve.
Online presence is a two way street. Having a functional website and being active across social network is important not because “you don’t exist if you’re not online” (or any other empty cliche being passed around these days), but because it provides you with a direct channel of communication with a large audience. Your present and future customers can do a lot of your work for you simply by pointing out what you’re getting right, and what you could improve. Therefore, giving them a platform to provide you with feedback is simply essential. Make sure that you’re website is “user-friendly”, and if you don’t possess the necessary know how find professionals to provide you with a striking and functional web design. Be present on the social networks and try to devise creative ways to engage the community. At the least, keep them updated on all your activities
Besting your competitor’s promotional efforts is often all about covering all the bases. Essentially, if the quality of your product and your service is up to par, if you have a clear vision of what your business represents, if you utilize the things that come for free (i.e., social networks) and formulate your marketing strategy with regards to the specific nature of your desired clientele, chances are you’re good to go.