As a new business, one of the most challenging things to achieve is competing with your more established competition. Businesses that have been trading for a while have built up an excellent reputation and have their regular clients, so it can be tricky for a company selling similar things to get in there and prove that they’re worth a look too. It might be difficult to do this as a new or smaller business but it’s not impossible, and if you go about things in the right way it really can be done. Here are some of the ways you can get ahead of your more established competition and claw your way to the top.

Build Up Your Brand

When it comes to brands, people have confidence in them which is why they get more sales and are able to charge more. This is because when you purchase from a brand you’re getting more than just products or services- but a promise of good quality and service. Brands have a reputation to uphold, and so people know they will act correctly and put right any issues if they happen during the transaction. Building up your own brand is a key element of creating a successful business. A recognisable brand will make you look more professional and customers and potential customers will put faith in you by purchasing from you. The first step of creating your brand is defining what the primary qualities and benefits that your company offers, which is what will set you apart from your competitors. Find your unique selling point and go from there. Have a designer create you graphics, a logo and a marketing team help you come up with a slogan that sticks. The aim of the game is for people to recognise who you are and trust what you do.

Have an Excellent Online Presence

Any business these days needs to make a good impression online, whether you sell online or are a local company. This is because customers will always be searching for businesses like yours, and if they’re met with all the right information they’re far more likely to use you over a competitor. Even if for example you’re a local bakery who only sells from a shop and not online, if a customer needs a bakery and finds you through searches they’re far more likely to choose you if everything looks like it’s in order. Invest in a professional website, it should look smart and clean with no messy fonts, colours or cluttered ads. It should be fast to load, and any errors removed as soon as possible since an amateur looking or slow site can massively damage your reputation. People will assume that if your site is bad, the rest of your business will be run in the same way. Find a good web designer, and choose hosting which offers proactive IT support. That way, if you experience issues they can be put right quickly.

Your social media accounts are also incredibly important and should be run well. When people click on them to find out more about your business, they should see that queries are handled promptly and that issues are solved. Social media is an excellent way to engage with your customers on a more personal level, so get an expert on your team who knows what they’re doing and don’t be afraid to focus a large part of your marketing budget here. A blog is another way you can promote your business online and look more professional. You could even hire a freelance writer to create regular posts for you if writing isn’t your forte, you can always find them on freelancing sites.

Finally, an app is another significant investment for your business and massively boosts your online presence. It’s way to essentially get your business onto the phones of your customers, an excellent place to be. It’s just another way you can look trustworthy and legitimate since less experienced, or scam companies wouldn’t go to the trouble of having a good app made.

Provide Great Customer Service

Customer service is everything in business. You might have the best business idea in the world and sell excellent products or services, but if you leave people with a bad taste in their mouth due to poor customer service- chances are they won’t return. You really need the right employees on board who are genuinely happy to help and who present themselves in a way that no job is too small. They should deal with customer complaints gracefully, handle stressful situations and go well out of their way to make sure every customer has the best experience. Spend time during the recruitment stage when you’re advertising vacancies to find the right people. Keep good employees by offering fair wages and good employee benefits like dental, medical, retirement or disability packages This can help to prevent them from going off to work for one of your competitors instead!

Get a Business Phone Number, Email and Address

Smart customers will always check the contact details of a company they don’t know before making an order. And there are a few things that will put their mind at ease and give them confidence to shop with you. The first is having a proper business number as opposed to a mobile number. A business phone number has to be registered which helps to show that your business is legitimate. A business email address as opposed to a Gmail, Outlook or other standard email address is the way to go. Your website hosting will give you the option to sign up for business email so take it-  it looks so much more professional. Running your business from a small office or even from your home can be a good way to go for some businesses as you save cost and hassle. However, it doesn’t look very professional if people check your location using Google street view. One way you can get around this without forking out extortionate prices for a high end office is to use a virtual address. This is essentially a mail forwarding address, where any mail sent is scanned and emailed over to you. It means that if customers check your address on online shows a professional looking office block, making your business look more professional. Of course, this is only useful for companies who don’t have customers or clients coming to their office- but for the right business it can be something to consider.

Use Paypal and Accept Card Payments

There’s so much fraud and criminal activity that goes on online, people are of course wary of entering credit, debit or banking information onto sites they don’t know and haven’t shopped with before. For this reason, it’s worth making sure you have an option for people to pay via Paypal. This offers protection for both buyers and sellers, buyers can shop with confidence knowing that if something does go wrong then they can get their money back. If you’re the kind of business that trades in person then accepting debit cards is crucial. Even if you only sell things on a market stall, having a card reader makes it convenient for buyers and can prevent you from losing out on sales. Research has shown that these days, few people carry cash much more than pocket change and so this is something to be aware of. Especially if you’re the kind of business that relies heavily on foot traffic and impulse purchases. As people won’t have planned to take money out in advance.

Get Customer Reviews

Customer reviews can be the difference between success and failure in your venture, so don’t overlook their importance. When potential customers are deciding whether to shop with you or your competitor, it’s reviews they will go and look at. Seeing positive reviews from real people can instil a lot of confidence in them and generally help them to trust your brand. On Facebook, your business page will give you the option of adding a review tab so go ahead and do that. The good thing about this is you can click through and see profiles of the people who have written each review, which shows others that they’re from real people and not just made up. Third party review sites can also be beneficial, check out sites like Reevoo and Trustpilot and send a polite follow up notice to customers after their transaction asking if they would be kind enough to write a review for you. You can’t offer any compensation as this is against the law, but you can certainly ask nicely- many who have a good experience will be happy to do so. Negative reviews can be really harmful, so it’s important to deal with these correctly and come to some solution when things go wrong, as occasionally they will do. Any negative reviews with recurring themes are an indication that some area of your business is failing, so use this as a way to improve.

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