Don't Focus On Your CompetitorsMost businesses worry about their competition, and they research what their competitors are doing. Many business owners obsess about this, and when their sales go down, they blame the competition. However, many experts feel this idea is somewhat outmoded, and that it would serve most businesses to watch their customers closely, rather than their competitors.

Here’s why companies who focus on competitors instead of customers tend to offer items extremely similar to their competitors, while they tout the differences. Often, their customers don’t really see the differences in their products, or the slight differences don’t matter that much to the customers. This means these businesses are not really serving their customers, and that’s a recipe for disaster, especially for a small business.

Learning what your customers want isn’t as hard as it might seem. You can use Competitive Intelligence (CI) formally and informally to find out just what keeps your customers satisfied and coming back for more. CI is a structured tactic that allows you to keep up with customers and your market, and it’s used to help your company grow and prosper. Using CI you can gather information on your customers and the products they favor. There is a professional organization, the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals, which offers more information on gathering intelligence for your particular business.

Interact With Your Customers

The first informal way to find out what your customers want is to ask them. Listen to what they’re saying, and observe them as they interact with your products and employees. Train your employees to engage the customers and care about their needs, too. Find out what they like about your products, and what they don’t like. Perhaps your deliveries take too long, your customer service needs improvement, or your repair department takes too long to complete repairs. These are all things you can act on to make your company more desirable to your customers, while you conquer your competition, too. Placing your main focus on your customers shows them you care about them and their needs, and that can build extremely loyal customers that will return to your business time and time again.

You shouldn’t ignore your competition entirely, but remember that your main focus is your customers and their needs.

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