business, business owners, competitiveIdentifying business opportunities has become increasingly challenging. Today, there are constant shifts in marketing, as well as consumer tastes and preferences. Vertical integrations are occurring among large businesses. Consider Amazon, for example. As business owners, we can choose to stand still and be a result of change, or we can choose to ignite our own changes. Choose the latter. Here are three (3) ways business owners can keep their businesses relevant and competitive in an ever-changing market:

Evaluate Your Product(s) or Service Offering(s)

Consider the following: Are your product or service offerings desirable right now to your target audience? Desirability can be broken down into several components: excitement, relevance, value, uniqueness, innovation, and the ability to ride industry trends. At the end of the day, do you serve as a resource? Does your product or service offering help move your clients forward? Does it provide value, so that you are viewed as a true partner? These are the tough questions. Make time to conduct this important exercise. Doing so will put you at a competitive advantage. The print industry is a prime example. As printing technology has advanced, the consumer’s preference to interact with information has surged. The companies slow to adapt have grown slower or downsized, and some have even gone out of business.

Talk to Your Customers

Your value chain of buyers, from prospect to customer, is constantly changing. It is comprised of buyers, haters, loyalists, influencers and advocates, end users, or some combination thereof. Each group communicates differently, behaves differently, and has its own hangouts. Focusing on serving each can be costly from both a marketing and client acquisition standpoint, not to mention exhausting. Empathize with your customers. Ask questions. Listen to your groups’ pain points. Observe them. Take time to talk to them. Don’t be surprised if new opportunities present themselves for you to add value and serve as a trusted resource. Failure to understand your customer groups will cause you to scramble. Look to influencers and advocates of your brand and company. Cultivate relationships with them to help you improve your word-of-mouth marketing.

Take a Pulse of Your Industry 

Change can be subtle. When change goes unnoticed, It’s like a river with predictable patterns that flows peacefully overtime. Then suddenly, it rains heavily for 10 days and the peaceful river turns the river into a raging torrent, sweeping all away in its path, and it hurts. If your barrier to entry has decreased, it opens the gates for new entrants. These competitors may be faster, lower cost, and have sizeable marketing budgets. Don’t get left behind. What key factors within your business will keep you relevant, exciting, and have a solid value proposition? Failure to understand your industry dynamics will cause you to be unclear and lack focus. This could result in having to close your business. A prime example is Blockbuster. They had an opportunity to be a leader in video streaming, but missed their mark because they did not fully evaluate their industry changes and consumer preferences.

Leapfrog

To leapfrog your industry, buyers, or services or product offerings, requires discipline and focus to constantly observe and seize opportunities. Don’t just mimic your competitor or increase your offerings. Your customers are looking for value, creativity, and innovation, all at a low cost. If you remain the same, your business will become stagnant and eventually obsolete. Step out of your comfort zone and make radical innovations that will allow you to not only beat your competition, but also become a leader in other areas. Doing these tasks will help you challenge the status quo, feel empowered on decisions that drive your business forward, and best chart the course of your business. What type of business do you want to be? The choice is yours…