It’s natural to be intrinsically focused when designing, developing, and ultimately launching your own website. You’re thinking about your brand, the content you want to develop, and of course, the products and services you want to sell. You want to look good in front of your prospects and customers – and generate revenue to keep the business going.
So it’s also natural to neglect the challenge presented by the competition.
How to Handle Competition With Your New Website
If you’ve written a business plan, you might have already outlined and studied the competition. But after you launch your website, those competitors will stop being hypothetical constructs and start being active traffic siphons, drawing visitors away from your domain.
If you’re launching a website in a fundamentally new industry or niche, you might not have much (if any) competition to deal with at first launch. But it’s only a matter of time before others sniff out what you’re doing and launch sites of their own to contend with you.
No matter what, competition can be a problem. So what’s the best way to handle the situation?
Identify the Threat
First, you need to analyze your competitors. Who are these people and why do they pose a threat to your business?
These are some of the most common types of threats you might face:
Familiarity and existing brand power.
If you’re emerging in a market that has already been established, you might find the greatest challenge overcoming the brand power and familiarity that a company has already developed.
In this industry, this company may already be known as a valued leader. They might have already poured years of effort and hundreds of thousands of dollars into their marketing efforts. It’s hard to overcome the influence of a business that’s already so entrenched.
Visibility and budget.
This company may also have a pure edge when it comes to visibility. If this competitor is currently dumping money into marketing or having a robust advertising strategy, they may already dominate the search engine results pages (SERPs), social media, and other forms of online visibility. This makes it an uphill battle to get seen by your target demographics.
Agility and course of development.
Your top concern with a competitor could be their natural agility. If they have a lot of capital, a plan for development, and ample flexibility, they could easily outmaneuver you – even if you put a highly competitive strategy in place to deal with them.
Expertise and perceived authority.
Your competitor could have an advantage over you due to expertise or perceived authority. This is similar to the familiarity/brand power issue in that your competitor may already be entrenched in the minds of your shared target demographics.
It’s often hard to close the gap if this company literally has more years of experience in this field than you.
Pricing and other hard product advantages.
Let’s not forget the basics – if your competitor offers the same product at a lower price, or if their product is strictly better in some way, you’ll find it hard to illustrate yourself as the superior option.
Once you understand who your competitors are and how they work, you’ll be in a much better position to devise a counterstrategy.
Choose a Lane: Confrontation or Avoidance
If your website is already launched or about to be launched, it’s too late to drop the business idea or fundamentally reconstruct it. Instead, you’re going to have to work with what you have.
You can use countless strategies to get an edge over the competition, but most of them fall into one of two broad categories: confrontation or avoidance. Confrontation doesn’t mean getting into an altercation with the other business, mind you – it simply means you’ll be attempting to directly contend with your competitors, with tactics like:
- Price/core product improvements. You could optimize your business to outcompete competitors with pure product upgrades or better offers for customers. For example, you might use machine learning to continually optimize your product to serve your customers better, or you might offer a product that’s more resilient, more durable, or more efficient than competing products. Of course, you could also work to offer a lower price – which is always a great competitive maneuver.
- Expertise. You could also try to offer more expertise or experience than your competitors. This can be difficult if your competitor has been in business for years, establishing trust and gaining experience before your website was even conceived of. However, you can take shortcuts by getting published, building out a more robust team, and aligning yourself with other organizations.
- Customer service. One easy way to outdo the competition is to offer better customer service – especially if their service is already a weak point. Offering more communication channels, more personalized service, and better experiences overall can put you in a much better position. Plus, people will be willing to pay more for such thorough care.
- Visibility. It’s possible to increase the visibility of your organization even more than your competitors if your budget is big enough and if your strategy is precise enough. There are also cunning methods you can use to get more visibility that doesn’t necessarily require a bigger budget – but there’s no getting around the need to spend money to get seen.
- Social clout. Additionally, you could try to outmaneuver your competitors by gaining more social clout. Building a following on social media, landing some big clients, or getting shoutouts from major influencers could all help you here.
These strategies can be powerful, but there are two main issues with them. First, you may not have the creative ideas or business infrastructure necessary to back these plays. Second, these can be expensive, taking you out of the running before you can earn the benefits.
Practice avoidance strategies
Instead, you may want to practice avoidance strategies, which allow you to circumvent the competition entirely. For example:
- Demographic targeting. Consider targeting a different demographic entirely. If you’re working with two different audiences, you won’t get in each other’s way.
- Niche topics. Instead of working with the broad subject matter of your entire industry, try to become a master in one specific niche. A focused specialist will often find it easier to build visibility than a generalist, jack-of-all-trades type business.
- Locality. Don’t compete nationally when you can compete locally; you’ll instantly filter out most of your competitors. And you can always adjust to serve a national audience later.
- Other modes of differentiation. You can also differentiate yourself with a different brand voice, a different mix of products and services, and an almost unlimited range of other creative ideas.
Of course, if your competition is fierce and your adjustments aren’t allowing you to build momentum, you may have to consider pivoting the business/website entirely – or closing the business and starting something completely new.
After launching the website and making some adjustments, you’re not out of the woods. Your competitors aren’t stagnant hurdles to overcome, but instead are living, breathing organisms that are constantly evolving to overcome you. “Defeating the competition” or “overcoming the competition” are poor names for this strategy since they imply that there’s a point where you’re done.
Instead, you have to remain vigilant at all times, knowing that at any moment, a new competitor could emerge or an old competitor could invent something new to threaten your business.
Therefore it’s important to have a monitoring and observation strategy in place, so you can get a fair warning that a competitor could be a threat – and proactively design and implement new strategies to deal with them.
When launching a website, you can hope for limited competition, but sooner or later, you’ll have to deal with the threat of businesses like yours encroaching on your territory. The more flexible you are, and the more attention you pay to your competitors’ development, the better your chances of success will be.
Image Credit: gratisography; pexels; thank you!