Business is cutthroat: Here’s how to stay ahead of the competition

Follow these tips to stay ahead in the competi-tive race for business.

By Henry Brown

These days the market is absolutely saturated with businesses since the Internet has made if feasible for many people to quit their day job and start their own venture. Which is fantastic since it has created so many opportunities that weren’t available even five or ten years ago. This is great for customers since it gives them plenty of choice. However, it’s tricky for businesses. No matter what you’re doing, you will have a hundred other companies doing something similar and competing for the same customers. Making your business the very best it can be, maintaining a professional image, great online presence, and getting ahead of your competitors is so important if you want to succeed. So what exactly do you need to do to achieve this?

A great website will work wonders

Your website is likely to be the first thing your customers will see of your business, so it needs to make a good impression. Something that looks cheap, amateurish, is slow to load, and contains errors will ruin the professional image you’re trying to create. A good business website should be aesthetically pleasing – clean and smart without spammy ads cluttering up the space. It should have a professionally designed logo, and contain all of the information a customer would need about your business. This includes a physical address and landline telephone number, email address and social media links. It should have information about your business and brand, perhaps an About page explaining what it is your business does and what customers can expect. If you’re selling products on your site, a good ecommerce shop front is needed.

You should invest money into making your website as good as it can be, enlist a professional website designer and focus on this as a way to grow your business. They will need to know about website information architecture methods from SEO to different approaches to ensure your site works well for your business. If a customer thinks your site looks shoddy and unprofessional, they’re likely to assume the rest of your business is the same way, and that’s when they can hop over and shop with one of your competitors instead.

A business blog can help you stand out from the crowd

Another way you can boost your online presence and look professional is by writing a blog. WordPress easily integrates with websites, so this is something you could have your web designer do when they’re putting it all together. Write an interesting and engaging blog in the area that you sell in. For example, if you sell clothes you could write about fashion. Include everything from current trends, outfit ideas, celebrity inspiration and more. It gives you chance to promote some of your own products and also helps to gain you a loyal readership and customer base.

As a bonus, writing a blog as part of your website will also boost it in search engines. This is because websites are fairly static, so search engines pay them less attention, whereas with a blog new content is being released all the time. This gives search engines spiders something to crawl over and notice. A better ranking in search engines will mean more organic traffic, meaning less money you need to spend on ads and other advertising. Blog posts also attract shares on social media, and every time your post is shared or retweeted it’s more free exposure for you.

If you’re not much of a writer yourself, there are tons of experienced freelance writers and bloggers online that you can order content from without it costing much. Each week you then have fresh, interesting and exciting new content to post to your blog. It’s something else that can help you stand out amongst your competitors by showing customers you’re legitimate, trustworthy, and really know your stuff in your field of business.

Future-proof your company by investing in an app

The larger companies of the world are all reaping the rewards of what an app can do for their business. There are tremendous benefits to essentially having your business on the phones of your customers. However, many smaller and medium sized companies are yet to get on board. There are lots of talented app designers out there who can create something incredible for your business, and it’s a worthwhile investment. Since apps have to be verified, if you have one, customers can see that you’re a legitimate business. People can be wary of scams, so when you’re new to the game proving that you are who you say you are can be tricky. Especially when you’re yet to build up reviews or a following on social media.

Another fact not to be ignored is that now more sales are made on phones and tablets than they are on laptops and desktops, so it’s something you will have to get on board with eventually. Do so now and you future-proof your business, and can stand out from the crowd. Your customers have your company available to them at the click of a button, it’s great for building brand awareness and you give people the option to shop on their preferred device.

Keep staff looking smart with uniforms

Another way to help your business maintain a professional image is to make sure your staff looks the part. If most of your business is made up of salespeople or office workers, it might make more sense for them to dress smartly in their own clothes. But if your business is a shop or deals with the public, uniforms are a great option. It instantly shows customers where your staff are if customers need to locate them, ensures everyone is neat and tidy and helps to promote your brand too.

Lots of places do custom embroidered logos on work uniforms; much depends on your business and the type of work your employees do but this is definitely something to consider. If your business has engineers or people that work outside, for example, woolen beanie hats and coats with your logo on would work well. If it’s an indoor role, a t-shirt or shirt with your business name could be the way to go.

Name badges are another thing to consider; they make the experience more personal and customers are able to identify staff members if they need to complain or if they want to send a compliment about work well done. You could also have rules regarding things like hair style and color, piercings, whatever you believe your staff need to follow in order to stay looking professional and present the right image to customers and clients.

A nice workplace

To make a good impression, allow you to look professional and stand out from your competition you should consider how your place of work looks. If you’re an office, for example, clean white walls, neutral carpets, nice furniture with decor like plants will help to keep everything looking nice. If customers or clients come in for a meeting, they’re not left underwhelmed then. If you look like you’re struggling with money when it comes to your office, you might give the impression that your business in general is struggling.

If you’re a shop, you could make sure the layout is right, and your window display makes an impact. Nice changing rooms and good lighting is also essential. Regardless of what your business does, if your customers see and do business where you work, then this is an area that should be addressed.

How do you ensure that you stay ahead of your competition? What steps have you taken to ensure your business promotes a professional image? Please share your ideas.

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Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

 

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