Let me ask you a question. Who is your competition? Who are the ones taking the money from you and putting it in their pocket?
Sounds very ominous when you put it this way, but that is the nature of business, especially online… We are all trying to get that top spot on the search engines and drive people directly to our sites to convert that traffic in to cold hard cash…
The problem is, how do we stand out from the crowd to attract that customer… Why should they choose us rather than our competitor?
Well, I am going to show you a few ways you can literally crush your competitors (even the multi-million dollar ones…)
1. Create a Unified Brand
If 15 stores on the same street sold exactly the same products and had exactly the same prices and all had the same store fronts, which would you choose to buy from? It really does not matter, does it? The all carry the same stuff, same prices, etc.
Online it is much more difficult as you likely have 100s or even 1000s of competitors and customers that can leave your store in under 3 seconds with a back button and click on your competitors instantly. That’s literally how long you have to make your competitor decide to look around and not leave. So, your brand, your graphics, your calls to action all need to be slick, professional and make you look like a million dollar company (even if you are not). Thankfully, you don’t have to have a million dollar budget. You can hire fantastic graphic artists from places like oDesk, Fiverr, Freelancer.com and other places where you will find top level graphic designers at a fraction of the cost of hiring a professional studio.
I was lucky in that I married an award-winning graphic artist. However, if you don’t have that resource right now, hire it out. I will give you one of the biggest tips right now — everything needs to flow from one design. Your logo, colors, email headers, invoices, social media pages and headers — all need to follow the same theme. It’s this unification that creates a brand. Look at top sites like Nike, Starbucks, Walmart, Microsoft, Apple. In a matter of half a second you know who you are dealing with. Its all about that brand.
Now, this will INSTANTLY set you aside from over 98% of your competitors because they do not have a brand. You now stand out from the crowd and when you get visitors to your site, you instantly create a positive impression and are much more likely to get them to continue on to explore.
2. Don’t Make Your Visitors THINK
This is an old adage we used in our company for years. Every step should be crystal clear. You want to move the customer from visitor to customer. It does not matter if you are an eCommerce store or just generating leads. The path to action and calls to action need to be clear. Again, this is what will set you above most of your competition. The more clear you are about the course of action you want them to take, then the better your conversions (and reputation) will be.
Think about you experiences with popular sites you like. Why did you like them, what are they doing different that you should be?
Your aim is to make it as SIMPLE as possible for your visitor to find what they want, and if possible, do it in under 3 clicks.
3. Get Social – Very Social
This is the social age. If you are not directly engaging your customers via social media you are losing out on a huge amount of traffic, trust building and growth potential. Find out where your customers are and engage them. Set up fan pages for your business, Tweet, create videos with “How To’s” and give value. This will increase your reputation, create loyalty and help you turn your customers into your best sales agents.
Create a combination of campaigns that can put your social marketing on autopilot. Schedule broadcasts, syndicate your blog updates, join groups and forums for your market and help answer questions. If you don’t have time to do it yourself, hire a virtual assistant to do it for you. This can have a HUGE impact on your business if you approach it the right way. Look at what some of the big companies do and seek to emulate them. There are some great, cheap tools that can help you automate 99% of this. For example, we use Hootsuite, Socialoomph and some desktop tools as well. If you use WordPress then there are plenty of plugins that can help as well.
4. Low Hanging Fruit
If you are in a niche where there are lots of competitors all going after the same exact term in the search engines, then slip under the radar. One thing we do is rather than follow the crowd trying to get top rankings for 2-3 very competitive terms, we go after 40-50 lower competition terms and get 10 times the traffic. Think about the exact terms your customer really searches for to make informed buying decisions. Think about terms like “Best XXXXX” or “XXXX Reviews.” These are terms with buyer intent. So, try use a good keyword tool or even Google’s own keyword tool to dive deeper into your market and find terms you can target that have lower competition and target those with your site.
You are basically going into areas where most of your competition is not focusing and this will give you a massive edge.
5. Never Compete on Price – Compete on Reputation
There is always going to be someone who undercuts you, buys in bulk, or lowers prices but skims more in shipping. Honestly, I NEVER compete on price. Don’t get me wrong, I will keep my prices average, but what I will do is offer massive value in other ways. My main focus is experience and customer satisfaction. Did I make it easy for my customer to get what they needed? Did they get value? Did I give them an incentive to come back again or recommend me to their friends and family? This has much more impact than price. Sure, there are people that will nickle and dime for, well, saving a dime… but they will spend 2 hours on trying to save that dime!
Most people are much more focused on simplicity. We do not go through a drive-thru at McDonald’s because they make the best burgers and value. We do it because it is EASY. Most consumers are this way. If you show them the reason they should buy from you and make it easy to move forward, most of the time you will get the sale or conversion.
This will help you build and focus on your reputation. If there is a problem for your customer you should bend over backwards to make it right. A great example of this level of dedication is Zappos. Their entire business ethos is built around their value on the customer. If you do that in your business you will get a ton of word of mouth advertising and a very loyal customer base.
6. Be Everywhere… All At Once
There is no better way to crush your competitors that to be everywhere at once. I call this “swarming” the niche. It takes time, effort and some budget. However, if done right it can be done easily. Think about where your customer is and literally be everywhere they are. Create a viral campaign to give something away of incredible value, or some sort of socially aware campaign. I suggested to one student recently who was starting a pet-store to create a campaign around “Saving a Kitten Day.” Now, that has MASS appeal. Who would refuse to save a cute cuddly kitten or puppy?
Think about the potential for mass market appeal. Tie a promotion in like this where you can send out press releases, start a viral Facebook campaign, encourage people to share the page, etc. Get your market to be your best promoters and feed all that attention back to your site. In this example I used with a student I suggested donating 10% of sales for 30 days to a charity that saves shelter pets, etc. Make a big deal about the success of the campaign, the impact it has, etc.
This is just an example of ways you can be seen everywhere when people are looking online for things in your market space.
These are just a few ways that you can crush your competition, even the large businesses and compete on the same footing. Remember, these companies hire HUGE marketing companies to draw in the crowds. See what they do, where they are advertising and see where they may be missing the boat… and leaving you a golden opportunity to creating massive growth and profit.