Most basketball fans don’t remember the Michael Jordan of the 1980’s. They remember the MJ that won 6 NBA titles in the 1990’s. In the 1980’s, Jordan wasn’t an NBA champion. He was the game’s most talented player, but he couldn’t quite get the Chicago Bulls over the hump until 1991. The difference between the MJ of the 1980’s and the MJ of the 1990’s is he figured out get the most out of his teammates.
How did he learn this skill? By mimicking past NBA champions such as Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, etc. Jordan learned how to lead. Once he learned how to lead, along with his incredible raw talent, the Chicago Bulls became virtually unbeatable until Jordan retired. Business owners can learn a lot from athletes such as Michael Jordan.
When Burger King Introduces a New Burger, McDonald’s Responds
We all love originality. But the truth is every business copies from its competitors in some ways. Take fast-food restaurants as an example. Years ago, consumers could only get a burger, fries, soda, and maybe a milkshake at burger restaurants like McDonald’s. Then, creative CEO’s realized that by only offering a limited menu, they were losing customers to fast-food restaurants that sold other items such as chicken sandwiches, salads, etc.
Every time one major fast-food restaurant introduces a new item, competitors respond with a similar item, or something different on their menu. All successful businesses learn something from the competitors. They learn by researching the success of a competitor’s marketing tactics or new products. If Burger King creates a new sandwich that has a hamburger patty and a chicken patty on a pretzel bun, McDonald’s will wait to see how that sandwich sells.
If Burger King pulls it from the menu a month later because customers aren’t buying it, McDonald’s won’t do anything. If customers are flocking to BK for this sandwich, you can bet McDonald’s will soon introduce a similar sandwich. The same principles that major corporations use also apply to small businesses.
Learn From Your Competitor’s Website, Blog, Store, Etc.
When planning to start a business, before creating a marketing strategy, you should know whom the top 3-4 competitors – at least – are in your industry. Once you’ve discovered your competition, look over their websites, blogs and Internet marketing strategy and offline store (if available). When conducting this research, you need to determine the following:
- Their target market
- The design/color scheme of their website
- Where they are located (if they have an offline store/office)
- The products/services they offer
- Their prices
Let’s start with the target market. The target market should be blatantly obvious in the content of their advertisements, website, blog, marketing materials, etc. For example, it’s obvious our HostPapa blog caters to small business owners.
The next step is to check the type of design/color scheme of your competitors’ websites. If you notice that every business in your industry has a similar type of website, there is probably a reason for that.
Most businesses attempt to set up shop in a profitable location. For example, gas stations are most profitable near major highways. If you notice comparable businesses are located exclusively in certain sections of town, there is a good reason for that.
The final step is to research the products, services, and prices your competitors offer. You don’t want to sell the exact same products and services, but you should attempt to offer better products and services. You can even charge higher prices than your competitors, but you need to have something better to offer and a stronger sales pitch. Otherwise, you won’t be giving customers a reason to buy from you.
Use Your Research to Offer Something Better
The purpose of researching the competition isn’t to completely copy what they’re doing. The purpose is to get an idea of what they’re doing so you can do it better. Businesses that are unique are more attractive to consumers. Research the competition. Get an idea for what they’re doing. Then bust out your creative side and do it better. Follow these tips and you’ll be sure to get the edge on your competition.