So, you think I should just call my competitors and say ‘Hi, I’m in competition with you, I’d love to know more about the services you offer’?
Recently a small business centre facilitator advised me to do some research on my competition. Unsure about how to do this, I was shocked at the suggestion that I should, “Just pick up the phone and be honest”.
Hmm… be honest. I wonder if they’ll hang up on me?
Research your competition : don’t ask, don’t know.
So I picked up the phone and dialled the number on the least threatening looking business card.
We got chatting. The longer we talked, the more I thought it was not just me who found the conversation valuable. I believe the specific targeted questions I asked below, helped build the confidence of my competitors as well as myself.
- What specific products or services do you offer?
- In addition to these tangible deliverables, what else do you believe your clients get from working with you?
- How would you describe your target market?
- Have you done a SWOT analysis lately?
Obviously my main goal was not to make my competitor feel better! So what did I gain from the exercise?
Each conversation I had helped me refine my own individual selling position and realise that my main product, the Soul Biz Plan Workbook is actually very unique.
Even more importantly one of those conversations has potentially resulted in an affiliate who agreed to send business my way! Who would have thought.
Everyone has a unique selling position.
This is especially true if you deal with your customer directly.
I am fast learning that more often than not,
People want to do business with you is because YOU are YOU.
Your personality, your strengths and your beliefs are what attracts customers and ultimately builds a loyal following.
That being the case, it is very rare that someone will be offering the exact same service, or product, as you.
When I realised that the business coaching services I offer are in fact slightly different to my competitors, I noticed that we could actually work together. When clients do not fit our own target market, we can refer them on, and vice versa.
Very often we are quick to compare ourselves to others. Usually to people who have achieved great success already. And then we wonder why we are not like them!? I’m certainly guilty of doing it.
So often, the reality is that those people are further along their business journey. I bet if you looked at some of their original work or website copy (if you can find it), you’d see that like you, everyone starts somewhere.
Sarah Prout recently wrote a blog post that said:
When you compare yourself to others you start to second guess yourself and lose sight of your own uniqueness.
So what did I learn from researching my competition?
Ask the questions, get to know your competitors better. But don’t compare, simply be inquisitive. Then celebrate your own unique selling position!
Not only would I have never discovered what I wanted to know, but I would have never found out what I didn’t realise I wanted to know. Like hanging up the phone and knowing that a competitor might actually send business my way!
I hope this has inspired you to do some research about your competition. Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear how you go!