I live in Miami and down here we have a serious problem in Everglades National Park. Giant invasive pythons have setup shop on the American Alligator’s’ swampy turf. To make it worst, the giant non-native monitor lizard just joined the party. He’s an egg eator who doesn’t discriminate, so both gator and python eggs are on the menu. What’s a gator to do with stiff competition like that? Well, fight or die.
Like these competing reptiles, small business owners offering the same type of service will face off in a local market.
How to gain a fighting edge against local rivals
Your goal is to be at the top of your niche and stop your competitors from getting you down. The following three methods can help immensely.
Develop high visibility using visual marketing mediums. For a local physical business, high visibilty can be achieved through good branding and a reasonable budget. For example, you could create a wrap for a dedicated business vehicle with your logo, slogan, and colors at a cost between $1000 and $3000. You get mobile marketing everytime you drive around town. You could also print out branded bumper stickers to pass on to customers with vehicles. Auto related businesses, preschools, and elementary schools often use this method.
You can also often find reasonable ad space at bus stops and commuity benches at local parks. These are places where local residents will often be, so get a marketing advantage by advertising there.
Earn good local reviews and testimonials from real people who use or reference your business. Your business reliability and good customer service will work for you here. Whether it’s strangers passing through, moving to town, or residents who’ve used your business, they still use the internet to research or post about you, and these posts (if good) can help boost your service. Consider a home buyer. Instead of driving by potential properties (somewhat creepy and stalkerish),they’ll go to real estate websites, or check out local broker profiles with star ratings and reviews on Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
Basically, your battle against local competitors eventually end up on social media and business review sites somehow. A local resident might snap a self photo near your business and tag or checkin to Facebook or FourSquare. Someone could be ranting about their experience with your business on Twitter. You have no direct control over this, just provide good enough service to earn high praises from them.
An immediate need can also trigger a search for your particular business. It starts local then spread online. Recently I sold an old suv 4×4 to a junk yard in Miami. I didn’t know much about Miami junk yards so I asked my local mechanic.
That ended in a bust so I hit up Google. I found two good junk yards I’ve never heard of, then compared reviews on Yelp.com and Yellowpages.com. I chose the guy with the better reviews, did a smooth transaction, and dumped the old clunker.
If you can’t directly dominate your local business turf, cleverly and indirectly get others to help you do so. Your rivals might catch on to your tactic eventually but at least you’ll be ten steps ahead by the time they reaize your indirect marketing genius.