A competitive advantage means you are a step ahead of the competition. Having this advantage for both personal and business situations can help ensure you meet your long-term goals. In business, there are many ways to gain a competitive advantage. The process varies by industry, but the principles remain the same. The best way to gain a competitive advantage is to find ways to offer more value than your competitors.
Research the Competition
Gaining a competitive advantage can be achieved through research. Research the competition to learn their pricing models, product and service details, and procedures. Successful competitors may have insight that can help you enhance your business model. Use competitive intelligence firms or set aside time in your day to find out information about the competition yourself by browsing their website or becoming a secret shopper: The process of pretending to be a customer to learn more about the way a business operates. Sharpen your business skills with the tools you gain.
Learn Your Customer’s Behavior
Paying attention to customer behavioral trends can help set you apart from the competition. Businesses that are resistant to change often fail in the hands of the competition. Constant communication with your customers helps to ensure you remain abreast of their concerns and needs over time. Host focus groups or issue surveys to get more insight from customers. Listening to your customers and returning to your product to make updates or revisions until you achieve a satisfactory product demonstrates to customers that their needs are important and that you are committed to excellence.
Recruit from the Competition
Consider recruiting star employees from the ranks of the competition. If your competitor recently laid off employees or closed a local office, talent may be plentiful in your area. Hiring talent from competitors can help you gain inside knowledge on your competitor's operations. While the new employees can’t share trade secrets, they can share their professional processes that helped to make your competitor successful. Also, stealing employees from your competitor can lead to new clients. Clients may decide to follow trusted executives to a new company if their relationship is long standing.
Take your professional knowledge to the next level to gain an edge on your competitor. Become certified or insured to distinguish your brand. Prominently display your new achievements on your website and business cards to discuss with prospective customers. People often feel more comfortable with highly trained professionals backed by an accreditation. Be ready to explain to customers why your new affiliation is important especially if your competitors are not certified in the same area. Actively recruit your competitor’s clients by sending them notice of your new affiliation.