#WednesdayWisdom: how to gain the competitive edge in online business

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The digital world that we live in has opened the doors to new opportunities and ways to make your business thrive. Selling products and services has never been so targeted, and the possibilities to succeed have never been so great. However, while the internet has opened doors to new markets, it also means that you have more competitors.

Traditionally, your competitors were those businesses that offered similar products and services within your locality; nowadays, your competitors can be located anywhere in the world. So how do you compete? What makes your business the preferred option to consumers? Let’s look at how you can boost the chances of financial success and give your business a competitive advantage.

Have a strong and consistent brand

Every representation of your business should be instantly recognizable as your brand. This means that your every point of contact that a visitor or consumer has with your business should sing from the same tune sheet.

Brand continuity is essential for business success. The more often that people see the same message or image, the more that they relate it to your business. They get the same approach and experience each time they come across your business, regardless of how they access the information – either online or via traditional marketing means.

Consistency equals reliability; reliability equals trust. Trust in your brand equals more sales and profit. It’s critical that you nurture your brand across the different mediums. Here are five areas where you can strengthen your brand through consistency:

  1. Website
  2. Social media platforms
  3. The quality of the products or services that you provide
  4. The value that you provide your customers through the products and services that you offer
  5. The customer service that you deliver

Consistency and providing value to your customers is crucial to becoming an authority in your niche. So how can you consistently develop your brand?

Your logo, the typography you use, and the color palette of your brand should be uniform across each marketing platform. Visually the consumer should be able to differentiate your brand from your competitors immediately.

The content that you publish should be unified across the platforms. If you haven’t already created a mission statement for your business, you need to. A mission statement is an enhanced elevator pitch; it should be able to tell consumers exactly what you do, but with the additional information of your whys. Why do you do what you do? What’s your motivation? Why are you different from your competitors?

Your mission statement will inform the tone of voice that you use on your website and in your social media posts. If you let people see the personality of the business, they will connect with your brand emotionally. After all, consumers purchase with their hearts, not their heads.

Seek to evolve your business continually

Many online businesses achieve initial success and then remain static. They hit a plateau. This is because they have failed to make creative decisions or financial strategies that support sustainable growth.

Businesses must continually evolve to stay competitive and relevant within their industry. Problems typically occur when they have developed strategies and processes and stick to them rigidly, even when they may be limiting their success and not be the most effective way of performing.

  • Be personally responsible

Your business needs to be continually evolving. To do that, you personally need to be innovative with your approach to business and the strategies that you use. Business is a lot about trial and error, but this can mean that costly mistakes can be made that can challenge your business’s survival.

To reduce the risk to your business, you can progress your expertise by undertaking further education. A provider such as Suffolk University Online can develop your critical thinking skills and understanding of corporate finance so that you can approach challenges and make decisions that will give you the competitive edge for the long term.

The main difference between your business and its competitors is you. So, don’t be afraid of being visible to your customers. It will help them engage with your business and relate to you personally.

  • Be customer aware

Think about how newspaper sales have suffered in the digital age. The media companies had to respond and adapt to the new way that people access news. You really need to know about who your target audience is and how they use your offerings before you start marketing to them.

Just as technologies advance, so do their needs and requirements. You must keep up to date on the trends that affect your customers and how they value the products or services that your business provides. You must know the advantages of your products and how they genuinely benefit customers to maximize the effectiveness of any marketing campaigns.

  • Be data aware

Business owners look at the data and metrics of their website to gain a true picture of their venture, but what do you do with the figures? Are you using the data to its full potential?

Your first instinct is to identify underperforming pages and find an SEO remedy, but are you looking at how else you can use the data? Is there an opportunity for cross and upselling? Are there gaps in the products or services that you offer that you could fill? Metrics can be used to expose new opportunities for your business.

Business owners often overestimate the sustainability of their business and underestimate the need for it to be somewhat flexible. To keep your business from becoming stagnant, it is important that the decisions that you make support its evolution. It’s a continual process that cannot be neglected.

In today’s digital-based economy, it has never been so important to establish yourself as the top dog in your industry. You need to nurture your brand so that it is synonymous with value to your customers. This can be financial value, but there are other ways to add value to the products or services that you offer: faster service, exemplary customer service, or convenience, for example.