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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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The Biz Question

I just started a business and I thought I was one of the pioneers and was going to take this nationwide and become very successful. Little did I know, there are many companies doing this. When I got online and started researching, I realized I wasn't the first one with the idea and this let the air out of my sails. How do I overcome this fear of the competition and become a mainstay in the market?

Thanks for your time and advice! Sincerely, Chris

Answer: from our Guest Expert Terri Andrews of The Turquoise Butterfly Press

Dear Chris:

Have you ever seen the grand finale episode of Gilligan's Island where The Professor comes back and invents a cool flying disk meant for personal recreation, only to later see the Frisbee being passed around parks everywhere? Do you think he was upset? Do you think he gave up and entered into a fearful funk? No Sirree Bob! The Professor pulled himself up from his bootstraps, developed a new plan, and tried again and again and yet again.

You and The Professor are in good company. I imagine that thousands of people have tried to market their "one and only" unique product or service, only to find a thousand similes already floating about. But don't defloat your own boat just because you've found that you have some competition in the water. Instead, use them as a testing ground for your business and declare war on those who stand in your way of being the victor in your field!

Fuel The Fire With Their Sticks!

Use the competition as a focus group. Dig into their companies and look at their advertising strategies, prices, and delivery services. How do they market and accept payment? How well are they doing -- do they deliver on time as promised? How do their prices compare to yours? What type of customer service reputation do they have? What are their satisfaction guaranteed policies? Use THEM as a springboard for your own marketing research.

Compare your services and/or product to theirs and see how you measure up. Look at quality, personal service, ease of payment, reliability and accessibility by phone, mail, email, and in person. Do you see a niche that you have over them? If so, use that angle in your advertising. Let your target audience know you're up on the competition in certain areas!

If their advertising campaign is working, take notes. Most likely, they have previously invested time and money into finding the perfect strategy for your particular audience. Use those findings for yourself, and in the end, you'll be in the thick of things with them.

Once you've examined the competition and squeezed out all the details you can, use your competition research and analysis to better prepare you for meeting your clients' needs. If possible, order their information packet or call and talk to an employee. Look for flaws. Perhaps they are unreachable by phone or they will not accept credit card orders. Be on notice for areas where you could provide a much better service.

So Chris, having some competition is not necessarily a bad thing. It can be a strong motivator in fueling your fire to move to the top of your field...as planned! Don't sink your own ship before you even get into the water.. and never, ever take that second three-hour tour! The Professor is still out on that island.

Hope this helps you, Chris!

Terri Andrews, Turquoise Butterfly Press

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