This week, I have the absolute honour of handing you over to one of my favourite people in the equine industry and somebody I work closely with on a regular basis and admire greatly.
Emma Warren is a wife of one, a mother of two and a lover of life-juggling, which is a good job as she wears many hats and pops up at my favourite country and equestrian jewellery company Hiho Silver, the most gorgeous creamware company around, Doris & Co, Dimpsey Glamping, 70s Devon holiday home, Dimmet and more recently as herself over at EmmaWarren.co.uk.
An escapee from accounting, these days she can mainly be found dabbling in business development and customer delight – but she’s not afraid to wield a spreadsheet or two if she needs to make a serious point.
Based in Somerset, Emma loves the countryside, her job and just generally hanging out with her family. A keen explorer of brands, the scent of an artisan gin or two will lure her off the homestead, as will the mention of certain handbag, boot and belt brands!
And she’s kindly agreed to chat to you today about the idea of ‘competition’ in business. I absolutely love her take on this and I think it’ll definitely have you reevaluating your previous definition of the word.
Why Your Competition Probably Isn’t Who You Think It Is…
by Emma Warren
More and more these days, the way we work as business is to concentrate on a niche, by which I mean we find the people who want what we’re offering and then we try to be really clear about what we can offer them. For example, our business, Hiho Silver is an equestrian and country jeweller, many photographers are equestrian photographers or portrait photographers.
As we become more confident and understand our customers more, we narrow down our focus. However, there is one area of business in which it’s really important not to be narrow in your focus…and that’s when you’re thinking about who your competition is.
So if you’re a photographer (I’m going to use that as an example as the lovely Sophie has asked me to guest blog here for you) then I would bet that you are probably eyeing up other photographers to see what they’re doing, what they offer and what their pricing is.
Sometimes, they really annoy you by doing what you’ve just launched and that focuses you in even more on what other photographers are doing.
However, let’s just take a moment to think this through from a customer point of view.
They have a budget in their head to buy a service or product and you are probably thinking about them reviewing and deciding which photographer to use – and you’re right. You’re also right in ensuring that, at this stage of proceedings, they can clearly understand who you are, what you offer and how good you are at it – and hopefully can see what other customers are saying about you.
But did you ever think about the stage before this…?
Because there is one!
Generally before your customer gets to the point of selection between providers of e.g. photography – they have probably already done one level of narrowing down and that’s the level of what to actually spend their money on – not who with. They have £x and they’re thinking about how to spend it, sticking to my photographer analogy, they’ve probably been thinking about if they should get a photo shoot, or a pastel portrait, or a video or maybe even wider than that.
So, at this point in proceedings, your competition isn’t other photographers, it’s other options for their money – so your job at this stage is to persuade them why a photo shoot is a good option, not why you’re the best photographer. If you’re a jeweller, you might be competing against a watch as arm candy – not other jewellers.
As a more general example, there was some Harley Davison motorbike market research a few years back and part of the brief they set was to find out who was the main competitor.
In your head right now, you’re probably thinking that it was a Triumph or some sort of motorbike. The team thought that as well and I bet didn’t really think research was going to tell them anything they didn’t know.
The feedback presentation nearly knocked them off their seats – their main competition was a…caravan!!!
The research had revealed that a Harley tended to be a later life purchase for the husband, about the time that the kids were growing up and the wife (or the couple) was starting to think that a caravan would be lovely. The pot of money that could potentially be spent on a Harley was also the pot of money for the caravan.
Research also revealed that ultimately 70% of purchasing decisions were made by the female in the family, and Harley marketing was very firmly geared towards men and that needed to change.
The point I’m making here is that the caravan wasn’t even on their radar as a competitor but it was actually taking sales that could have been theirs.
So back to you and yours! I hope that this post has stirred your thoughts a bit and encouraged you to think about competition in a slightly different way. Put yourself in the shoes of Harley and have a think – who is your “caravan” competitor and how could you persuade your potential customer to spend with you rather than them.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Big thanks to Sophie for inviting me to guest blog – I hope you enjoyed my musings!
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