Have you ever heard or said the words, “I’m my own competition!”? I’ve heard them; never said them. Not because I don’t get it or agree. It’s just that before I heard those words, I held a stronger conviction in another belief – and I refuse to shift sides.
I’ll never forget what I learnt in my A’Level Economics class or was it GCSE Business Studies? – whichever. My teacher explained to us that competition was good. The presence of competition reveals that there is a viable market. If there are no Afro Caribbean hair salons up this side of the high street, there’s probably a good reason for it. I’ll let you figure out why for yourself.
Granted the rule as I have presented it doesn’t work 100% of the time. I know an African Caribbean food store that opened up off the dual carriageway. Other businesses in the location were a furniture warehouse, mechanic workshop, storage units, and a dilapidated former pub house. On first glance, many would have presumed it to be an unimaginable site for the food store. However, it’s also the place where African and Caribbean customers drive past, particularly on Sundays on their way to church, and see the prominent signpost indicating the food store’s whereabouts. Furthermore, fewer sites in an area with a good population of the target market would have housed such a large building. The owners have gone on to open a larger store 10 miles away in a similar odd spot.
You may also try to thwart the economics rule when it comes to the issue of inventions. When the wheel, the light bulb or the car were invented there was no initial competition.
But even when we are not talking about inventions, and whether or not our competition is local, I think you’ll agree that it’s good to be in a market where businesses like ours exist. It signals a viable need; a group of people are ready to buy what we are selling.
AND, if we want a share of that market, we need to beat the competition -agreed? – Let me know your thoughts in the comments. But, I say yes, we do need to beat the competition. We must offer something distinct and hard to replicate. It’s not always obvious, but if we can distinguish ourselves early on in the game, it’ll be too late by the time the competition catches on to do anything about. They’ll have been ignoring us in the beginning. The competition is never bothered by the new kid on the block.
So what is one way we can distinguish ourselves? Easy – we create for a niche; we sell to a unique fragment of the market.
Do you know Mrs Spencer? She’s a buying persona of Marks and Spencers. She’s in her fifties, likes stylish, contemporary clothing and shops around 18 times a year. There’s a lot more about Mrs Spencer that Marks and Sparks know and every marketing message they create embodies that insight.
If you want to beat the competition; stand out from the rest; be preferred by a distinguished few, you must be specific about who your customer is, and you do marketing for them.
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