Want to crush your competition? Don’t we all! The best way to do that is not to focus on your competitors but your key customers. Give them a unique, outstanding experience that exceeds their expectations and you’ll beat your competitors in the process.
Providing your customers with an outstanding experience includes every touch point you have with them before, during and after the sale. Increasingly, it means giving them compelling stories they can tell in their social channels and elsewhere.
Here are five excellent techniques you can use to beat your competition, in part by envisioning a better customer experience. Naturally, I recommend capturing the ideas you generate from these exercises in mind maps. They will help you to stay organized, and may also reveal additional patterns and opportunities that you weren’t previously aware of.
If you’re a member of the Mind Mapping Insiders membership group, you can download map templates for each exercise, in MindManager, MindGenius, NovaMind, iMindMap and XMind files formats. If you’re not a member, these links won’t be visible to you – perhaps now is the time to join!
1. Do a SWOT analysis for your company and each of your competitors
SWOT maps help you to visualize your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Once you’ve identified these strong and weak areas, your goal is to brainstorm ways to to maximize and leverage your strengths, while at the same time minimizing your weaknessess. In addition to creating one for your organization, I recommend you also create them for each of your major competitors. Look for weak spots or under-served areas of opportunity where you can leverage an advantage.
2. Do a product and service analysis
Map out your products and all of the services you provide to your customers. Spend some time brainstorming about other products or services you could sell to them – either those that you produce or that you could gain access to via joint ventures. The goal is to provide a more complete solution to your customers’ needs. At the same time, use this opportunity to identify any products or services that aren’t providing enough customer value. Either strengthen them or eliminate them. You don’t need them being a drain on your resources.
3. Brainstorm around customer needs
Spend time brainstorming what you think your customers’ biggest needs are. Record them in a mind map. Then talk to several key customers and ask them these key questions. Record their answers in your map. Make them a different color than your own perceptions of their needs. That will help you to see just how close to or off the mark you were. Finally, create a new map to capture ideas for new or improved products or services to meet the key needs you have identified.
4. Who else has solved this customer problem?
Do some research on how other industries have solved the challenges your customers face. Capture any that are even remotely relevant or interesting in a mind map. Then think about ways in which you could adapt their approaches to solve your customers’ problems in an elegant way or otherwise prove greater value to them.
5. What’s your unique selling proposition?
Brainstorm your unique selling proposition, or USP – that singular combination of capabilities and strengths that makes your organization better than anyone else at meeting your customers’ needs. How can you do more, serve better and provide a better outcome for your customers? What makes you a better investment than any other potential supplier? Build your vision for your USP in a mind map.
Remember, beating your conpetitors is all about meeting the needs of your key customers better than anyone else – both those they have articulated as well as any unspoken ones that you can infer from what they have told you.
Run your own game – don’t imitate, because commoditization tends to lead to razor-thin or non-existent profit margins. Instead, innovate – not just in terms of products, but also services, business models, distribution, marketing and your supply chain. Good luck!