Don’t Let Your Competition Freak You Out {and What to Do if They Already Have}

Clueless note: This is another fabulous post contributed by Lisa Shaughnessy of Savvy Digital Business. I think this is an important message for all of us – no matter what type of business you are in {and yes, authors-bloggers-writers are in business too} – you have probably checked out {and been intimidated by} the competition a time or two. Lisa offers great advice on how to reframe your thoughts about your competition, and what competition really means to your business.

If you would like to contribute a story to Memoirs of a Clueless Woman, please email Carin Clark. For more information and guidelines, please see my Your Story Policy.

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When you started your business you probably did some online research to see who else is offering a similar product or service. You visited their websites, checked out their online profiles, and saw how they marketed themselves so you could get a feel for how you measured up.

Admit it! You got some satisfaction when you came across a website in your niche that looked so cheesy you wondered how they’re getting any business. You automatically discounted them as real competition and felt better about your own positioning.

Then there’s the flipside – when you came across websites that were polished, designed well, and told the customer exactly what they need to know and do. That earlier feeling of being able to compete started to fade.

As a small business owner I understand the roller coaster thoughts of “I got this!” mixed with “How can I compete with that?” I’m here to tell you that you can compete. You just have to keep things in perspective.

Don’t let a company’s more polished website freak you out and cause you to doubt your business’ ability to hang with them. More than likely they have been around longer than you. They’ve already been where you are now and have had plenty of time to make their mistakes and learn from them.

Competition Freak Out

Competition already in your head?

If thoughts of your competition are already getting to you, here are three things you can do to get back to focusing on your business:

1. Understand that competition is a good thing

Competition will keep you striving to bring the best value for your current and prospective customers.

Don’t assume that because other businesses offer the same thing you do that there’s not room for more. Nearly every business has competitors and the majority of those businesses are thriving and successful.

Think of how many restaurants, clothing stores, gyms, etc. exist in the same towns and cities. Not to mention the thousands of online businesses people can choose from. Most are doing very well despite the fierce competition.

2. Focus on what makes you different

Having a competitor to compare your services against is a great way for your target audience to truly understand how your services are the right fit for them. Learn as much as you can about others in your space so you can define what makes you different and better.

For example, after my first business partner left a few weeks before launching my fitness marketing business several years ago, I had to reduce the number of services I offered. While researching what services I should focus on I came across sites selling marketing “systems” aimed at my target audience, fitness professionals.

These sites were flashy, the text was big, and a lot of words were bold or capitalized. They were “loud” – everything my site wasn’t. At first, I did let the competition freak me out.

But I settled down and saw that although my site is different from theirs, that’s ok. It’s better than ok because it was easier for fitness professionals who were looking for marketing and social media help to see which business fit their needs.

I amped up my positioning by offering a personal approach and tailored marketing solutions. This attracted clients who preferred a real person over a marketing system.

3. Target your customers

Sometimes what looks like competition isn’t true competition. They may offer similar products/services or have the same target audience, but with slight differences. Each company’s products, pricing, and even the personality of the company, will appeal to different people.

In my case, I realized that my competition and I weren’t actually targeting the same customers. Yes, we both helped fitness professionals, but each of our customers were looking for completely different things when it came to marketing their business.

Ignoring competition isn’t an option, but it shouldn’t freak you out either. The key is to be aware of the competition, but focus on your business.

Lisa Shaughnessy is a social media and customer engagement strategist as well as a podcast host, author and speaker on those topics. In 2011, after 20 years as a customer engagement, marketing and communications professional, she started her own fitness marketing business. In August 2013 Lisa co-founded Savvy Digital Business, a company devoted to helping small business owners save time and stress while managing their own social media through individual coaching, webinars, courses and online resources at SavvyDigitalBusiness.com.

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I want to hear from you!

Have you experienced this with your own business? Leave a comment and let me know how you handled it or any other advice about competition that you’d like to share.

Comments 3

  1. Coincidentally we were talking about this the other day. It motivates me to work even harder, come up with better designs and products as well as offer better customer service. Very interesting post.

  2. Carin – thanks for letting me contribute to your wonderful site again! I hope your readers find this post helpful for their own business journey.

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