All of us have something in common – we have competitors. And sometimes, how will we beat them and create a competitive advantage is our biggest concern.
I talked with several professionals and experienced CEOs and CMOs in their industries. All of them shared their valuable insights about how their created competitive advantage and scaled their business among a bunch of competitors.
Together with our experience, this article represents an ultimate guide on competitive advantages – what are them and how to use them to beat your competition.
First things first – How to do your competitive research.
Before you even think about creating competitive advantages, it’s time to do your competitive research.
Competitive research is a must, and there are various ways how to do it efficiently. Because this isn’t the main topic of this article, we will just cover the most important steps.
No matter whether you are starting a new business or already have established one, every second day some new direct or indirect competitor is born. So competitive research is a renewable process, and you should do it at least every second week.
The best ways to find new competitors is to try with keywords research.
Look for the following information about your competitors:
- Founders – It’s very important to know who your competitor decision makers are
- Social Media Networks URLs – How are they, for the God sake, communicating with their customers? What content are they creating?
- Distribution channels – How are they finding the new customers?
- Core Value propositions – What are the main differences between them and you? What are their Core Value propositions, and how my product/service can be more useful to my customers than theirs?
- The number of employees, headquarters, stage and the size of the investment – This helps you to understand how big their resources are, and you can imagine for what are they capable of.
- Other information (Number of customers, website visitors, etc.)
Here’s the list of websites which can be quite useful for you, and it can save you a lot of time:
For this, you can use our Ultimate Competitor Analysis spreadsheet to be sure that you didn’t miss any information about your competitors (By the way, it will save you a lot of time and make organization easy).
Our friend, Ognjen Vuković from Reportz explained in a few sentences why competitive analysis is so important for your business:
“Knowing your competition is good. Knowing what works for them is even better, and knowing how to do that better than them is the ultimate goal you should set regarding your competitor analysis.
In Reportz we use multiple tools and techniques to monitor and out-perform particular clients’ competitor activities such as social behaviour, paid efforts metrics and SEO/SEM stats.
Every good strategy has to have competitor analysis at its core, since having an in-depth info about what works best for your competitors can give you an overview on what to focus on and how to outperform them in order to make a success.”
What is a competitive advantage?
Without good competitive advantages, we will never get our market share. So it’s really important to understand what competitive advantage actually is.
Let’s understand it with the example:
We have two companies specialized in “connecting people in the world”.
The first company is older and it already has some relatively big customer base. The second one is new but promising and more interesting.
The second company had more features and it was actually really entertaining, while the first company wasn’t.
They actually really empowered people to connect with each other and to make relationships.
Later, the second company got funding and created a monopoly over the market.
You probably know about which companies I’m talking about – they are MySpace and Facebook.
So, competitive advantage is anything which can help you to outmanoeuvre your competition. It can be price, unique value proposition, better product, better communication or better marketing and sales.
In the case of Facebook – It was a better story. A story that really empowered people to take actions.
Storytelling – the art of making your customers special
Today people do not follow brands and logos. They are following stories.
They identify themselves with the stories of other brands.
Coca-Cola is a great example: Their competitive advantage is based on empowering people to take actions with various marketing campaigns who are alluding to happiness, love, relationship and friendship.
Nike is another great example with a perfect storytelling (Especially with their campaign with Colin Kaepernick).
Beverley Theresa, CEO of Social Media with Beverley Theresa, told us her story and how she created her competitive advantage with content and personal branding:
“Content is a key. I’m consistently creating and offering free valuable learning for people looking to set up their social media. It helped me to grow my business immensely.
Also, my background helped me to build credibility. So people told me that my attitude and personal brand gives me a competitive advantage. They are usually contacting me and saying that they want to work with me because of the way how I’m communicating.”
Don’t be afraid to tell stories. Explain to your potential customers what drives you and why are you doing what are you doing. What’s your idea, mission and vision.
Research your target audience and find out what are their main problems and create an engaging content with a lot of useful information and resources based on your potential customers’ problems.
But remember this – content isn’t only the blog post – it’s much more. You can engage with your potential customers in various ways:
- Create funny videos with explanations and solutions of your potential customers’ problems
- Create Infographics
- Make Quizzes, How To’s, Guides, Playbooks, Workbooks and Spreadsheets
One thing matters more than a content itself – it’s distribution.
Here is some advice on how can you distribute your content very well:
- Prepare your content in different formats – Instagram post, Instagram stories, Facebook posts, etc.
- Distribute your content on Guest blog posts, your blog, Quora, Medium, Reedit, etc.
- Post in different Facebook Groups
- Ask Influencers for sharing
- Motivate your customers to share it by giving some offer or other free resources (spreadsheet for example)
Prepare your content based on your potential customers’ needs – make them feel special! 🙂
Focus on your users
Good business is based on two things:
- Good team
- The loyal and engaging user base
Sometimes everything which matters is creating a good relationship with your users.
Baptiste Debever from Feedier, explained to us how they managed to create competitive advantages in an industry full of competition – both direct and indirect:
“Any feedback tool is a competitor of Feedier. But that’s okay. Feedback is a huge market and the so-called surveys are just a part of it.
We want to create our own crusade where focusing on the feedback and the user is what matters the most. So gamification, experience and rewards are what’s important to create competitive advantages in the overcrowded industry.
– Feedier is built from scratch to engage your customers. Our technology knows whether the customer is happy or not and therefore we can provide the right engagement to the right user. Asking 5-star reviews only to customers being at least 80% satisfied for example.
– Feedier adapts the questions to the customer. Thanks to the first step we know whether the customer is happy or not and why. We can, therefore, adopt the question to any customer based on that. The experience is unique!
– Feedier aims to create a relation between your team, your customers and your products.
– Feedier makes it easy for you to share your surveys to the right customers. We will send the emails for you, write your social posts and even let you embed them right into your website.
– And finally, Feedier gamified with a complete framework, and the ability to send rewards at the end of the survey.”
Anita Erker from Linkchain, shared with us their way to create competitive advantage by focusing on her users:
“Listening, listening and listening. Value creation is a constant, ongoing art.
Each day I conduct a micro-research which helps me to gather deeper details – not just about the competition, but users, marketplace, partners,… Each segment of the audience is equally important. To kept the balance and differentiate yourself is in the middle of that matrix.”
From their practices, we can find out that building a loyal customer base and good user experiences help you to create good competitive advantages.
Find the niche where you can make a difference
Sometimes is not easy to compete with big companies and dinosaurs. It can be hard, with much efforts and money invested in order to get low results.
Sometimes, the best solution is to be specialized in one – two unique things.
The best example for this is Trello. Trello managed to create an industry monopoly over the much bigger competitor – Astana – by focusing only on one thing.
Nemanja Zivkovic from Default Design described to us how are they creating competitive advantages by delivering results and focusing on unique niche:
“We’re focused on giving a constant value, daily, on one side. We’re present in communities, everywhere where our customers are.
On the other side, our focus is on delivering results in conversions and leads.
When our customer is getting profit, then he has enough to pay us and everybody’s happy.
On the other hand, we’re organizing the 1st online conference in the ExYu countries focused on conversions and marketing automation while creating a platform for marketing automation and pioneering website personalization.
We found a niche within marketing where we can make a difference.”
Kady Hobbins from Kaden Ave Communications is another great example of how to create competitive advantages with delivering best results:
“We’ve set ourselves apart by really drilling down and specializing in what we’re truly good at – making high-quality social media content that helps generate conversions and build brand awareness. We try not to spread ourselves thin and do things we’re just okay at, nor do we take on clients that we don’t think are the right fit. In return, we’re happier, and our clients are happier.”
Build a respected brand and community
Sometimes, building a good brand is everything you need. But this process is long and hard.
Building a good brand is easiest to do with building communities.
Communities are one of the greatest things humanity ever invented! By building a community, we can share more value and knowledge with our potential customers.
If you don’t want or don’t have time to build your own community, sometimes is enough to be an active participant in the existing one.
Ioana Budai from Apart25, shared with us their secret on creating competitive advantages by actively contributing in communities and networking events:
“We’re standing by a ‘Go the extra mile’ approach, so we aim to always offer some extra insights besides our main service lines. Apart from this, we also get involved in the community and create networking spaces both for people in our industry and the local startup environment.
In short, this is what makes us great at better grasping the needs of our clients and partners.”
Solve Big Problems
Sometimes solving problems with big pain is everything that you need.
If your potential customers find out your product very useful which provide them value, they will buy it. Simply as that.
Vlad Calus from Planable shared with us how they managed to create a relatively new market and solve the actual problems:
“As a team, we worked a lot in the past with brands and agencies and struggled ourselves with the issues of content, collaboration and approvals. We started from the premise that we wanted to build a product that is essentially solving their problem from the group up. That’s what resulted in Planable becoming the most visual content collaboration platform, which is our biggest advantage.”
Creating competitive advantages isn’t easy – but it’s necessary in order to create the monopoly in some industry.
Constant keeping an eye on your competition helps you to create a competitive advantage and be better than them. That’s the reason why we always need to monitor their:
- Social Media
- SEO and PPC campaigns
- Website changes and keywords
Competition never sleeps, that’s the reason why you shouldn’t too.
Claim your 30-day free trial of Competitors App, and be one step ahead of your competition even today!