When consumers think of the biggest name in your industry, who comes to mind? Is it you? Is it your biggest competitor? Is it a company so large and dominating that you have a hard time so much as scratching the surface?
Competition in business comes in all shapes and sizes, affecting both small, local businesses as well as large, multi-national conglomerates. How many competitors you have, how you approach competitive analysis in your business plans, and where you fall in comparison may vary from business to business, but an ignorance of your position in the grand scheme of things may be more harmful than you realize.
Advertising as a Ladder
Imagine, if you will, that your industry is a ladder. New startups and small local companies without an adequate reach are at the bottom, struggling to hang onto that very first rung. More established companies fall into the middle, separated by competitive advantage and brand awareness, moving up and down with successful marketing strategies and industry gains. At the top is the biggest player, the unmovable behemoth that dominates your market, driving millions in sales every year in a way smaller companies can only dream of. Just two questions remain: where do you fall, and how close are you to the top?
Know Your Competition
Unless you're an established, very well known brand, you may not be as close to the top of the ladder as you'd like. In your industry, how you are arranged on the ladder relates to top of mind awareness, or memorability among your audience. Remember, top of mind is tip of tongue. If you ask a group of 100 people to name a soft drink and 80 percent of them say Coca-Cola, it's clear that Coke trounced the competition in creating a memorable name that lingers on the tip of customers' tongues. Achieving this for your business is a valuable strategy; after all, if customers have a reason to remember who you are, they're far more likely to choose you over the competition.
Understanding Your Position
It's easy to think you're at the top of the ladder, dominating your industry and crushing the competition. However, this may not be realistic. In order to determine where you fall and what it will take to achieve an upward trajectory, it's important to take an objective look at what you're doing right, and what you're doing wrong. By stepping back, taking a third party look at your competitive advantage, and identifying strengths and weaknesses, you can fully understand where you fall and what kinds of changes are required to stay the course or advance to the top.
Making Your Move
You know what makes your company different than your competition, whether that means better prices, community resources, an environmentally-conscious approach, or a better overall product, but do your customers know? How you utilize your target audience, what you do to put your name out there, and how you stack up to your competitors' marketing efforts can all significantly affect your top of mind awareness, whether for better or for worse. By tailoring your advertising efforts to these little details, the things that set you apart and make you worth knowing, can be incredibly valuable when it comes to how others see you.
As an advertiser, putting yourself in your customers' heads may seem like a tall order, but increasing brand awareness is the key to moving up in your industry. By consistently marketing, creating strategies to rival competitors' approaches, and honing in on the audience that matters most, you'll be able to do what it takes to get closer to the top.