YOU SEE, THERE'S LEADERS AND THERE'S FOLLOWERS.
When you’re living as a broke entrepreneur, you have to rely much more on what has come before you.
Starting from scratch is not a luxury broke entrepreneurs can afford. Surviving at this stage is all about the slipstream.
A slipstream is the path the businesses ahead of you have carved, that makes it much easier for you to find your way in your industry.
WHAT I WAS LISTENING TO:
Some first mover has done all the work to pave the way, and you're going to reap all the benefits. You're going to take the good, and leave the bad.
When you’re broke, its much better to be second than it is to be first.
As the follower, as the second mover, you get to see what mistakes your competitors have made and learn from them.
I’m going to cover 5 ways you can use your opposition research to build a better business, while you save money and time.
- CUSTOMER RELATIONS
One of my favourite examples of this is the story of the Metro Bank founding team. I got the opportunity to speak with the CEO of the UK bank a few years ago, and I was curious about how they marked such a clear path for themselves so early on, without spending as much money as other banks did to set-up and market themselves.
They really relied on word of mouth.
He said they focused the beginning of their journey on carrying out opposition research.
They identified the other UK banks that were monopolising the market, the banks that would be their direct competitors, and they looked at all their customer reviews.
The key takeaway in this is that they're all competing for the same customers. They all have the same ideal customer (to a significant extent).
By prioritising their opposition research on customer reviews, they were essentially doing their market research for free. Saving money and spending time instead. Before they even had a product or service to offer, they knew the ins and outs of what the customer wants from a bank.
When you all have the same ideal customer, figuring out what the customer likes and doesn't like about your competitor’s business is going to help you avoid the mistakes their making, and save money on all the trial and error that it took your competitor to get to the place they're in today.
So the task here is to find 5 companies that are your direct competitors. Then look at their customer reviews. Figure out the good and the bad. Do the good, and avoid the bad, or better yet, solve the problem that's getting your competitors all the bad reviews.
If a bad review is caused by the fact that banks aren't open on Sundays, then open your bank on Sundays. Every customer that left a bad review about that issue is going to be interested in what you have to offer because you're directly solving an issue they care about, while providing a similar service.
- PRESS MENTIONS
These can be really difficult to come by, especially if you don’t know who to reach out for.
Press marketing is a skill you should endeavour to master as an entrepreneur, because you'll spend a lot of your time trying to get buzz for your work.
The only way you can effectively get buzz, is to get your company brand printed often in magazines and newspapers.
Its not enough to have one article, on time. You have to appear in multiple publications, at may different times of the year.
You also have to be relevant to what's happening in society at the time, and you have to know which publications your ideal customer will be interested in reading, so that when you appear, you're able to attract the right people to you.
All of that takes a lot of work and can distract you from actually running your business. Which is why most solo-entrepreneurs give up on press marketing early on. But there's a way to use your opposition as a springboard into the press without doing too much work from scratch yourself.
The task here is to find 5 strategic partners that are higher up the ladder than you are.
Remember, strategic partners are companies that share your ideal customer’s attention, but don't run the same business as you.
If you’ve been running for 2 years, they’ve been running for 5 years. They're more successful than you, and have the press mentions to prove it.
Take the time to write to every magazine and newspaper that has ever featured them and pitch the author of the article on your business. Your mission, your vision, your sob story. These are things you should have ready to hand once you’ve built your business foundation.
So, by the time you’ve done all of that, you’ll have spent about 2 hours on something it probably took your strategic partner a couple of months to achieve. Because they were there first. They did the hard work, and now you can benefit from it.
Obviously, the more successful you get, the more people are going to watch what you do and follow behind you in this way.
The point is to build on the back of other people’s success. That’s how you save time and money.
- SOCIAL MEDIA
This one's pretty straight forward.
When you’re building a social media following for your business, to gain customers, the easiest thing you can do is go to the social media pages of all your direct competitors. People that are running a similar business to you, and are at a similar stage as you, similar price point, with a similar ideal customer.
There's always something you do, that your competitor doesn't do. So spend 20 minutes every day, scrolling through the comments section and finding customers that are asking for the thing you do, that your competitor doesn't do.
Reach out to the customer in DMs and get a conversation going on the value of your business and what you would like to do for them.
This is specifically about offering a service that your competitor does not do at all.
If you’re both caterers and your competitor doesn't do a certain type of food that you do, and you see a customer asking for that specific type of food, then you can jump in.
If you do this well, and don’t actively step on your competitors’ toes, you might find that they'll send customers directly to you in the future. Because a rising tide lifts all boats.
- REVENUE MODELS
As a new business, the last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time educating your customers on your revenue model.
People want the payment options to be crystal clear and obvious to them. So before you start thinking about your pricing and the way you want your customers to pay you, look at what your successful competitors are doing.
How do they make money exactly? What kind of payments do they accept?
Really go through it all and carefully evaluate it from a customer’s perspective.
This is the easiest area of opposition research to explain, but probably the most difficult one to carry out because you don’t run the exact same business.
In this case, you’re going to have to use your discretion to tweak the good things they do to fit your business well.
Competition isn’t static.
As you grow your business, competitors change and some quit the race before you get to the finish line. So you have to do the work to continually evaluate the field you’re in.
You need to know who is in the lane next to you, and who's getting ready to bump you out of your lane.
Just like you're following someone, someone's following you and taking advantage of your slipstream. Once you become competition oriented, you're going to have to keep your eye on the beat of it all the time.
Who's doing something interesting and how is it going to destroy your business? What's your response to it? How can you innovate to meet the challenge?
I’m not suggesting that you compromise your mission or your vision for the sake of innovation or competition, I’m saying you need to interpret the field according to the mission and vision you’ve set.
You can’t stay in your comfort zone forever.
There are leaders and there are followers, and you need to be both at all times.
That’s all folks.
Thanks for reading,
PS. Join the Facebook group to get invited to a private strategy chat with me every Wednesday evening.
PPS. If you've got some entrepreneurship strategy expertise and you'd like to share it with the rest of our 1400 strong community, find out more.
ALSO... I designed a FREE business foundation course to help you build your business foundation. All levels. All disciplines. Let's GO.