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Monday, Jan. 26, 2009 at 9:57 am

5 Reasons Competitors May Be Doing Better Than You

By Bryan Eisenberg
January 26th, 2009

There are only so many ways to stand out and become a leader in any market. You can be lowest price driven, operationally excellent, channel dominant, or focused on customer intimacy. Many companies excel at two or three but it is nearly impossible to excel at all of them.

Here are 5 strategies companies use to become market leaders.

They have great operations -

Operations that let them be more efficient than you at getting order picked, packed and delivered so that customers’ expectations are exceeded. These efficiencies in operations also allow them to keep their costs down.  At the same time those interested in capturing additional market share invest those efficiencies back into improving the customers’ experience. online exemplifies this quality.

They do a better job at generating word of mouth -

Everything they do is focused in on delighting customers. They are driven by service. They understand that success is a long term strategy and can afford to do what they need to in order to please their customers. They go to every extreme to delight their customers and offer lagniappe in many ways.

They live on “life-time value” metrics. They are driven by a passion to serve and a philosophy that it is easier to keep a customer for life than to try and keep acquiring new ones. These some times over the top efforts that lead to so many of their customers sharing the amazing experiences they have had with the brand. exemplifies this quality..

They deliver as good of a product/service in a more customer friendly way -

I’ve seen this one happen so many times. One day you, the market leader, the first person to market with the product, with significant marketing budgets, and with the hugest market share become aware of some smallish competitor and ignore them because their product isn’t up to snuff.

They slowly start winning customers, that just need the basic features they offer. All the while they keep building up their product/service. However,  from the get go they eliminated many of the hassles of getting started with their business. Instead of a complicated sale processes, or in-the-way sales people they made their pricing transparent and made it easy to sign up online to get started right away. GotoMeeting employed this strategy when competing with Webex.

They do a better job at being found when people need them -

Location, location, location. Budweiser is not the world’s finest beer. However, they sell a lot of beer. Bud dominates so many channels that they are always available. We know Bud and so we order it because often good enough is good enough. Amazon applies this principle online.

Wherever or whatever you search for comes up on their site or on Google as being sold by them. I am not just talking about having a first place ranking for the most competitive single word key phrase, but they have invested in having content (a large portion customer generated) that spans the long tail, from early in the buying process to later in the buying process. Their pages tend to keep showing up time and time again. They thrive on generating content that is relevant and are thrilled to live off the 3 or 4 searches a month for a particular piece of content or obscure product as long as they have thousands of them that people are finding. Amazon has utilized this to keep adding product categories to their vast catalog.

They developed a culture that continuously optimizes the customer experience -

This is different than being customer intimate, it is more incremental, it is about being metrics driven. The key is to focus on key performance indicators that drive success for your business and being relentless and innovative in way to drive up those numbers. They may not often start off as the category leader but through relentless testing and optimizing they gain market share. These companies tend to be less risk averse preferring gradual and continuous change. This is a very powerful strategy for companies to leverage in a down economy, because while your competitors are trying to maintain status quo you focus on constantly improving. Many of Intuit’s brands exemplify this strategy.

How can you leverage these strategies to drive your own growth?

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Comments (13)

  1. All very true, when analyzing your company vs your competition you have to ask yourself are you doing everything within your reach to pull in your audience? IS you website up to date? How much older are y our competitors? Many different things to look at.

  2. I’ve come to the conclusion lately of this (about why some people succeed):

    There are countless people on the internet fighting over every imaginable market share. Normally, you can do 20% of the work to reap 80% of the benefits doing something if you do it right. That simply is not the case with internet marketing anymore. You literally have to do the other 80% just to pick up 20% of the market share. It’s all the people who don’t consider it a full time job that fail at this. The ones who take it seriously and work their ***** off are the ones who fail. I think it’s as simple as that.

  3. Great points for a new company like mine. In the you have to start somewhere and what near and dear to my heart is “getting found when people need them”. We started targeted keyword and content marketing over one year ago. Our go-to-market strategy was our “keywords” becoming number one organic placement on Google. Your blog has great points on focus, and how you eat a bite at a time.

  4. Clicking “lagniappe” results in a loss of scent. Great analysis, nonetheless.

  5. How can you leverage these strategies to drive your own growth? you ask. With enthusiasm and passion. People respond it sincerity versus over sell. Thanks for the good tips.

  6. [...] 5 Reasons Competitors May Be Doing Better Than You [...]

  7. Well done, this is a great post. Reading through each point I see a high level of validity, and I can see an application to my own businesses. Thanks!

  8. Great post! The really interesting part is that one can naturally lead to the others. We started our online retail venture just over 2 years ago with the mindset that we would ship faster than the rest. It meant having inventory on hand and all the associated costs, but the return has exceeded the investment.

    We are just starting our third year. Not only did we survive our first two, but we thrived. Fast shipping lead to excellent word of mouth and customer retention. To maintain the fast shipping as the business grew required expansion to support more inventory on-hand, which lead to more efficient operations and we’ve continuously reinvested in the company expanding our product lines and marketing channels. We’ve even gone so far as to open a brick and mortar store to compliment the web business, and it all started with faster shipping…

  9. Interesting post. It shows again why research is so crucial to a companies success. Research not just about their market, but also the competition and why they are succeeding.

  10. Great Post Bryan. Sometimes it also helps in finding out what they are selling, that might give you more product ideas. This has helped us to expand little bit every year. Might you you thought something won’t sell, but the are selling it successfully. Also comparing pricing etc also helps as that sometimes tells you reasons why people are not buying form you. Great post Brayn !

  11. Great article our partners would really benefit from reading this.

  12. Just to add to the list.

    “They answer the phone”.

    How many companies, I can’t count, I’ve called this and last year that simply wont answer the phone or return calls. Do they REALLY want my business?

  13. For the same reason it becomes very important to closely monitor what your competitors are doing.

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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