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  • Writer's pictureIan Morris

10 Ways To Get Ahead Of The Competition

Decorative image of people looking ahead

Find out how to keep the competition at bay, whichever industry you’re in.

Whether you’re a fledgling start-up or a major player already in position A1, these 10 steps will help you leave your competitors in the dust…

Getting ahead of the game requires a battle plan. And staying ahead of the game requires an equally tenacious approach. In fact, as Adidas’ Rod Laver once said ‘The time your game is most vulnerable is when you’re ahead. Never let up.’

1. Know who you’re up against

As Al Pacino’s character in The Godfather once famously said, ‘Keep your friends close but your enemies closer’. Basically, it pays to have a forensic knowledge of who you’re up against in business. The easy bit is identifying who they are, but go much further than that and do a detailed analysis on what they do well, what they’re not so good at, and where the gaps lie between you and them.

Once you know that, it’s much easier to identify where you need to work harder and where there’s room for you to stand out from the crowd.

2. Get to know your customers

Just as important is getting a deeper understanding of your customers. What makes them tick? What’s important to them? What gets them going on social? It’s these insights that’ll shape everything from your product or service to your branding and marketing.

Remember, this isn’t a one-off task. Customers’ tastes and habits change fast, so it’s important to keep a close eye and be quick to spot the changes. For example, the last few years has seen a meteoric rise in demand for brands with a strong set of values. Read more about that here.

3. Be ready to change

Most businesses devote time and energy to planning for the next five years, but market conditions change fast and you need to be ready to adapt. Make sure you don’t miss new opportunities to broaden your appeal and target new audiences, perhaps via a clever marketing campaign or a tweak to your offering.

Equally, new opponents will be popping up all the time, with a view to nip in and tempt your audience away. Design a strategy that’s flexible so you can respond to what’s going on in the marketplace.

4. Pick what you want to be known for and spread the word

Be clear on what sets you apart from the pack and makes you the plum choice. If you’re struggling to find your X-factor, adapt. Tweak your product, add extras, gift-wrap it in great service. Think about what you can give people that your competitors aren’t.

Once you know what makes you shine, tell everyone exactly what that is. Don’t assume everyone knows. Put it at the heart of your branding and marketing so it stands out and doesn’t get lost in a sea of other, less compelling messages. Less is more when it comes to driving home your USPs.

5. Be digital savvy

If nailing the digital side of things was a pressing task pre 2020, it took on a whole new level of urgency once lockdown hit. Suddenly, companies all over the world had to turbo-charge their efforts to be digital first.

Of course, a great website is a non-negotiable, but digital marketing needs your attention, too. Things like online paid advertising and personalised emails will help you hit your target more effectively. Meanwhile, creating good quality content, whether that’s in the shape of blogs, webinars, videos or social media posts, will help mark you out as an authority in your field.

6. Flex your creative muscle but keep it consistent

Businesses are recognising the importance of pushing the boundaries creatively to get their messages out there. Look for ways to excite your audience, with attention-grabbing video content or a fresh social media campaign they can’t wait to share.

Remember, though, consistency is crucial. One-off campaigns with a different personality each time will confuse your customers. To build a strong brand, always be ‘you’ and look for ways to link up your activity across all channels to keep things seamless.

7. Get ahead on social media

There’s no better way to tune in to your customers than via social media. Open, two-way communication on things like Facebook and Twitter will not only help you foster strong relationships but spot shifting trends, too.

Brands that shine on social (think Go Pro, Nike and Starbucks to name a few) use lots of platforms, and appreciate that a one-size-fits-all approach to content isn’t the way forward. Instead, they tailor their content depending on what the network is best used for and achieve far better results.

8. Freshen up your image

Sometimes it’s not enough to be a 21st-century business, you need to show your customers that’s the case. And one way to do that is with a refresh of your visual ID.

All the big players regularly revisit their branding, with the makeover spectrum ranging from a simple update to a total overhaul. In 2020, giants like Rolls Royce, BMW and TripAdvisor unveiled cleaner, more modern looks.

Ask yourself if your look and feel reflects what you stand for as a company now. If the answer’s no, change it.

9. Invest in your people and your office culture

A business lives or dies by its employees, so investing in your people is a must. Your goal is to attract the best people, retain them and provide them with an environment where they can thrive.

For staff, think about training, development and empowerment, plus things that’ll enhance their work/life balance, like flexible working. And think about your office culture, too. We’re not just talking about the office space itself (let’s be honest, most people are working from their kitchen tables these days) but the values, goals and attitudes that you want to flow from top to bottom.

Put simply, people perform best when they feel the love for your business.

10. Give back to your customers and the community

You probably expect quite a lot from your customers – their loyalty, their excitement when you launch new products, their positive word-of-mouth marketing. But a relationship is a two-way thing.

Explore what you can give them. Discounts, freebies, competitions, loyalty schemes… the list is long. Similarly, now more than ever customers want to engage with companies that give back, both to the wider community and the environment. Look for ways to do your bit and you’ll not only be helping a great cause but gaining a competitive edge, too – a win-win for any business.

A specialist Brand Agency

An award-winning branding agency, Threerooms has spent over 15 years making brands stronger and businesses more successful. Whether modernising brands with meaning or crafting effective marketing campaigns, our amazing team is focused on delivering brand transformation while providing exceptional customer service.

We want to hear about all your opportunities and how we can work together. Let’s chat.

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