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Cintia Miranda Cintia Miranda
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Why competition is good for business

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Most small business owners dread the idea of comparing their brand with their competition. We often see their facial expressions change dramatically when we ask them about their competition during a discovery meeting. While dealing with competition seems challenging and stressful, it is important to understand that competition is actually good for your business. New competitors frequently come and go, but only those who are really savvy, focused and good at what they do will survive the daily race towards winning the trust and loyalty of their customers.

In fact, competition is what drives successful brands. When we're not challenged, we tend to opt for the status quo and do things the way we have always done, which is perhaps the most dangerous way to run a business a straight road to obsolescence and failure. It's important to realize that there's always someone out there who knows better and can do better. This is an uncomfortable reality check that drives us to strive to offer the best products, services and customer experiences we can possibly offer. Let's face it: we live in world of choices. We have multiple choices and/or substitutes for just about any product or service we can possibly think of. All it takes is a simple web search and a world of possibilities is waiting for us at our fingertips. Marketing has never been so sophisticated, and competition has never been this fierce.

So, you might ask, how does a brand survive this new electronic jungle of choices and competition? It's simple. Strive to be the best you can be at what you know best. You can't be good at everything. Focus on your unique selling proposition, and make your brand stand above the rest through honest business practices, great products, proactive services, fair pricing and outstanding customer support. With so many choices available, brand trust is a major influence in the decision-making process of new customers.

Be consistent and deliver what you promised.

The main reason people decide to leave a business relationship is due to the lack of consistency in their interactions with a brand. It takes a great deal of work and money to lure a new customer to do business with your brand. If the subsequent experiences after the first conversion product/service quality, customer service, delivery, technical support or any other customer contact fail to keep the initial promise, the brand loses the opportunity to establish a personal relationship with that customer, which in turn compromises other future business interactions.

Aim to retain your customers.

One of the fastest ways to lose a customer is through poor service. According to KissMetrics, 71 percent of customers switch brands because of poor service, and at the same time 63 percent of marketers feel that new customer acquisition is their top priority. If this sounds crazy to you, it's because it is! Similarly, a recent study released by Nielsen states that consumer loyalty in the U.S. has dropped significantly in the past decade. In fact, only 22 percent of the participants in this study reported some sort of loyalty for the brands they engage with. What this study tells us is that most brands are doing a lousy job atcustomer engagement and retention.

Value your customer's feedback--and take action.

Start conversations and listen to what your customers have to say. Be honest and demonstrate that you are open to take action and improve your products and services to better fit their needs. Keep an eye on new market trends and behaviors, and do your best to give your customers what they want, when they want it, and at the price level they're willing to pay.

Show your appreciation for their business.

It's important to keep the conversation going and let your customers know that you care about them and their needs. If you think about it, it's more like an unspoken requirement when we choose to do business with a brand, we expect a level of respect and indulgence in return. Nobody likes to be treated like a number or a transaction, so take advantage of the many ways in which you can connect with your customers with today's technology, and keep in touch with them often.

Know your competition, but don't obsess about it.

Do your research and keep tabs on what's going on the other side of the fence, but don't obsess over the competition. In fact, if you really want to obsess about something, let that obsession be customer retention. If your customers love you they won't leave, and they may even work for you in the form of business referral.


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