Overview: Some business people mistakenly believe that it would be better if they had no competitors. However competition is essential to national economies, local businesses and consumers. Competition is a key driver of innovation, service quality, customer knowledge, value for money and management motivation. Competitors can also be a way to help lower your cost of business and attract more customers.

What is Competition: Competition occurs when two or more businesses  independently supply their products to the same group of consumers.

Being Competitive: This requires you to provide price, quality, choice and service that is similar, equivalent or better than other suppliers.

Focus on Strengths: Clearly define what is special to  existing and emerging consumers. Manage the transition carefully to maintain competitive advantage.

Kill It: Where a product or service has no competitive advantage or benefit  do not be afraid to kill it. This improves your cost competitiveness.

Competition Map: These are a created by businesses to understand the competitive landscape they operate in locally, nationally and Internationally.

Direct Competition: This is where another supplier offers the same products and services to consumers who may trade with you.

Indirect Competition: This is where a supplier competes for the same customer BUT they offer a different product and service. EG Cinemas and Concerts.

Old Competitors: These are the traditional competitors that a business is aware of and has a competitive strategy to counter their offer.

Invisible Competitors: These are direct competitors  that you never see. Good examples are ecommerce sites or businesses in adjacent towns and cities.

New Competitors: These emerge when consumers can access businesses elsewhere using new technologies, easier travel or other means.

Know Competitors: Use a mystery shopper strategy and have friends or family use competitors to see their offer and identify their relative advantages.

Listen: Staff and customers are a key source of information. Listen carefully for comments that can assist you to learn and compete better.

Social Media: Being a  follower of a competitor’s social media channels is a very easy way to monitor old, new and invisible competitors.

Contribute: Only contribute positive comments and feedback to competitor social media sites. Include your own link in the comment.

Congratulate: Competition is not a war. If your competitor does something you admire or like say it. Customers appreciate this openness.

Cooperate: Analyse what  is common to you and your competitors. Suggest joint purchasing etc to achieve discounts and better terms.

Share: Identify  service and other capabilities that could be shared with other suppliers. Again this can reduce the costs of doing businesses.

Coordinate: Identify common threats you and your competitors face. Suggest coordinated actions to counter them. This increases your impact.

Join and share: Become a  member of an association or group that benefits you and others. Don’t be afraid to share common benefit things that you learn.

Joint Ventures: Find activities, events or items of common interest that would be more cost effective if you do them as a joint venture.

Refer Customers: If your customer wants a product or service you don’t have but a competitor does, tell them. Customers appreciate this and are more loyal to you.

Range Allocation: No business can stock everything. Discuss product range  allocation with competitors to keep customers shopping locally.

Time Sharing: Examine with competitors if there is an opportunity to arrange an agreed schedule of early and late openings to service all customers better.

Next Generation: Brand loyalty is created very early in a consumers life. Establishing a relationship early is a huge  long term competitive advantage.