What strategies can you put in place at your shop or business to make up for the arrival of new competitors? We talked to a few consumers, confirming that the arrival of a new shopping mall is, indeed, a highly-anticipated event, particularly during the holidays and annual promotions such as El Buen Fin (Mexico’s Black Friday equivalent, elbuenfin.org). We also reached out to several local businesspeople to learn their viewpoints.
“I think competition is essential,” remarks Teresita Marmolejo, who oversees Plaza Caracol, the oldest shopping mall in the region. The businesswoman has collaborated with them for over a decade, witnessing the arrival of some of the newer malls. “Every time new and important brands set their sights on Puerto Vallarta as an ideal place for corporate growth, they are putting their trust in our destination. That said, shopping malls and their businesses should consider a series of improvement strategies on an ongoing basis, and not waiting until the arrival of a large competitor to set them in motion. Change is inevitable. Adaptability is essential.”
Here are some of the key suggestions we found in our research:
Define your brand. There may be similar businesses, but there are no identical competitors, just as there are no identical buyers. Understanding what makes you different, unique or special as you compare yourself with your competitors will allow you to identify your advantages and implement a well-founded strategy.
Identify your target audience. This is particularly important for small businesses. If you think your target audience is “whoever walks into the store,” then you have some work cut out for you. Narrowing your target is essential to get to know your audience. What are their cares and needs? How can you improve their quality of life? What can you offer them that other competitors cannot?
Establish a competitive advantage. There are three specific areas to consider: quality (offering a better product than your competitors), price (offering a better price) and/or service (providing your customers with a pleasant, memorable experience).
Step out of your comfort zone. If the only difference between your products and your competitors’ is the price, a client will not be necessarily inclined to choose your business over theirs. Providing a better service can give you the edge you need to succeed.
Build a client database. As far as time and investment are concerned, it is more expensive to attract new clients than to keep the ones you already have. A database used to share information about new products, offers or services, will help them remember your brand and the pleasant experience they had at your establishment.
Plan your advertising strategies with enough lead time. It’s amazing to see the number of businesses that announce products, offers or events with short notice, effectively preventing potential customers to learn about them and schedule time to visit said businesses. Scheduling your efforts over a well-structured timeframe will prevent them from being perceived as improvised.
Identify your key influencers and work with them. Be mindful of clients that frequently return to your business. They may not necessarily be the big-ticket buyers. We mean those who are likely to help spread the word about your products and services. A satisfied customer can be your unofficial spokesperson or offer a testimonial you can publish in your website or Facebook page.
Establish a promotional strategy. Advertising your products and services is an investment, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a considerable one. Keep in mind that all available options—advertising, social media, print publications, etc.—are different communication channels that can connect you with specific audiences.
Update your image. Sometimes changing the color of your facade store window layout is enough. However, if you’ve been using the same logo for some time, it might be worth your while to replace it for a new one.
Be the best employer you can be. Whether you are a supervisor, a manager, or owner of a business, keep in mind that providing your employees and colleagues with an inspiring, pleasant, productive and well rewarded environment, will go a long way in keeping them happy.
“We must remain positive with the arrival of new business opportunities, even when they could affect our profit,” stresses Marmolejo. “It’s important not to remain in our own comfort zone, without improving our products, or taking the necessary measures to establish a sound promotional strategy.”