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Problems With Solutions
How Do I Compete?
Jan 23, 2003, 11:26

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What’s on Your Mind:

I know that competition is supposed to be a good thing, but how can I really compete with the large companies that offer the same products that I do?

Answers from our Readers:

“There's only one answer to this question as far as I am concerned. Personalized customer service. Remember who they are. Acknowledge their special needs. Thank them with something special. Help them determine what their needs are and only sell them what they really need and fix it if it's broke. Build their trust and they will be there.”
Robin Zell

“First, take a deep breath and do not panic. Panicking clouds the mind and adds too much pressure on yourself. Realize that even though your products may be similar with the BIG guys, you don't have to "compete."

Then, send a survey to your customers and ask them why they purchased your product or service. In those replies, there could be something that the BIG guys are not doing. Target that niche when promoting your business.

Instead of trying to compete with the BIG Guys, take the reasons your clients use your services, or your customers purchase your goods, and continue to market to those types of people.”
Alyice Edrich - Edrich Communications

“I think competition is good for business! I know in my Mary Kay business that it is the personal services I provide my customers that keeps them coming back! If I didn't provide personalized service and remember birthdays and other special days, my customers could and probably would go to the department stores to buy their skin care and color cosmetics. However, because I provide personalized service, they are willing to call me on the phone or use my web ordering page to be great repeat customers! With my other business, I know it is the personal touches that bring people in!”
Jill Lee - Mary Kay Cosmetics

Don't compete on the products. Your differentiator is...YOU...and the personalized or specialized service you can offer. Perhaps you can target a demographic niche that is forgotten by "the big guy" because it's not as profitable. (You probably don't need the same margins; certainly you don't have the same overhead).
Caroline De Binder

Because you are a small business, you are also more versatile. You make the decisions about your products. If a product is not working for you, you can immediately discontinue it, or modify it. You personally can make marketing and advertising decisions. In a big company, there are generally whole departments that handle marketing and advertising, and product purchasing, and any decisions usually have to go through several key people before a final decision is made, and that can take time. The bigger you become the slower you are.

Also, consider customer service. Smaller companies many times will concentrate more on customer service, rather than try to compete by having the same low prices that a large company can get away with, but would put a small company out of business, fast. Great customer service is something big companies have really gotten away from.

Provide unique customer service that maybe the big company isn't providing. Doing fun and creative things to make your customers happy, and makes your business stand out, is what will give you a unique selling position or "USP".

A lesson can be learned from K-mart. This retail giant is in bankruptcy. Analysts have made the observation that K-mart has done nothing to establish a "Unique Selling Position", to set them apart from two other retailing giants, Wal-Mart and Target.

Unique customer service can mean something as simple as sending thank you notes to those who have purchased from you or providing gift -wrapping services. Most importantly, you can handle customer concerns and problems right away, instead of transferring them around to different departments, or even not returning their calls at all, in a timely manner.

If someone is interested in purchasing a product, unique customer service, and going out of your way to show appreciation for their business will, many times, mean more to customers, than the extra few dollars, they may spend, by purchasing from you.

Debbie Gragg

Gragg Enterprise

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