How to Grow Your Business –
4 Ways to Evaluate Your Market Position
All businesses started out with specific visions in mind, different problems to solve, needs to fulfill, and segments of customers to serve. Over the years, incremental changes are made, activities and functions added, products and service portfolio expanded, and scope increased. As competition intensifies, the tendency is for companies in related industries to become more and more alike as they work to emulate the strengths of their competitors.
As you look to grow your business and develop a strategy for the year, a little “soul searching” and looking backwards is critical before you move forward.
1) What makes you distinctive? – A company’s products and service offerings are the direct output of activities performed. What makes your business unique? Think about the products and services that you provide; how are they unique compared to your competition? Are the products and services you offer today the same as when you started your business? How and why has it changed? What products and services do you provide that are the most distinctive vs. your competitors?
Now consider the question from your customer’s perspective. What products and services do your customers value the most? Which customers value your products and services the most? What would they say makes your business unique? Would they consider you just another vendor or is there a compelling differentiation? Be sure that your answer is from the customers perspective. If you do not know, maybe now is the time to ask the question. Reach out to a some of your clients and ask them for feedback on your business. What do they like, what makes you different than others and what could you do to improve? Do not just ask the customers who love you, but also those customers you would consider to be lukewarm. It is important to get a mix of opinions to understand how you are viewed.
Answering these questions will help you to define your core uniqueness if I can call it “what you do best” for your selected customers. Focus on “what you do best”, fixate on doing it even better, and let your customers know it every chance you get.
2) Reinforce your unique market positions – Think about the selected groups of customers you serve and the way you decided to serve them (your business model). Is your business model the same as when you started your business, or has it changed? If it has changed, what factors drove the changes? Has COVID-19 had an impact on your customers and your business model? Are the buying decisions of your customers continuing to evolve? Are you in a position to continue to adapt or can your service help to change some of the buying behaviors?
There will be 2 key take-aways from assessing market changes that have happened and anticipating how the market will continue to change. First you will gain an understanding of how your organization needs to adapt to meet future demands (the speed of change in markets will continue to shorten and you need to be responsive to making changes). Second, as you adjust to the new market conditions, never forget what makes you distinctive. Your unique value proposition is still key to your business, how you get the message out may change but your core value should not.
3) Dramatic changes bring new opportunities: COVID-19 pandemic changed almost all aspects of business, from supply chain to sales marketing channels to customer behaviors. Many changes and impacts are here to stay. Understanding how your clients have been impacted by COVID-19 will not only help you to serve them better but may also identify new opportunities that you have not seen before. Embrace the market changes, look for ways to differentiate yourself from your competition.
4) Evaluate your competition: I put this last as too often we look at our competition to drive our behaviors vs looking at our customers. Too often we see what a competitor is doing things and we move to be like them. Do this for too long and eventually you become a commodity where the differentiation becomes only price. It is important to understand your competition for a few reasons.
Do you know and understand your 2-3 biggest competitors? How big are their businesses compared to yours? Do they have a larger or smaller market share than yours? Do they have a different set of products that makes them unique? What makes them successful? Are they in markets that you have not traditionally serviced? Then think about your own value proposition, how can you use what makes you unique to be able to capture business in areas they currently participate in that you have not been active.
Evaluate their offers. Think about your competition products and services and identify areas of gaps in customer service that the market is not servicing. Are you able to add to your portfolio to drive further differentiation from your competition?
Are you price competitive? You need to understand the competitiveness of your offer. You can at times demand a premium, but you also need to understand if the value of what you offer matches with the price you are demanding. Take time to think about your pricing structure and does it make sense for what you are offering.
If you lost customers to them, why did they leave you? Do you understand what drove them away or what attracted them to your competition? Perhaps they left because you failed to deliver on what your “core uniqueness” and it became a commodity decision.