As an author, I find that a number of authors think their fellow authors are the enemy without realising that they can learn a lot from them. I think having competitors is a great thing, especially already established ones. You can study them, learn their strong points and their weak points and see how you can offer value to your customers. In fact, you may be able to form a symbiotic relationship with them.
I’m not sure how or when I subscribed to the schools.co.uk mailing list but I remain subscribed as I find that occasionally they send out very useful newsletters. I received one such newsletter Why it is important to watch your competitors recently and thought to share it with you.
Why it is important to watch your competitors?
And what you can do when you know all about them?
When I am approached by companies which seek advice on advertising a product or service to schools, I often ask who their competitors are. Occasionally I am told “we don’t have any competitors,” and my response is always, “I’m sorry to hear that.”
Because if you really don’t have any competitors then you probably have a huge task in describing what your product is, and why it is desirable.
The key point in all this comes with seeing the market in the same way that teachers see the market. You might offer a desk, a chemistry book, or an anti-bullying programme which you perceive as unique: but the question is, how do the teachers see it?
If they see your desk, your chemistry book, or your anti-bullying programme as just another desk, just another chemistry book, or just another anti-bullying programme, then in their eyes your product is not unique, and if you make uniqueness your starting point, the adverts will fail.
Instead, what you need to do is look at the competition and note why your product or service really is different and better. That doesn’t mean you should mention the competition, but it does mean you should emphasise why someone should buy your product and why they should buy it from you.
If you want to do this, here’s a simple plan…
First, make sure your advertising emails have a headline that can be seen immediately – your competitors may well not use this simple ploy. In short, grab the reader by the throat from the start (although in a peaceful and gentle manner).
Second, identify your competitors’ approach to advertising. Are they announcing, selling on price, focussing on benefits, leading with an interesting question, or being quirky? Whatever they are doing do something else – preferably further along the list. So if they are selling on price, you move on to benefits. If they sell on benefits, ask an interesting open question.
Third, never make any reference to your competition, but always make sure your advert is easier to read and written in a different style from theirs. Generally speaking, the more conversational, the better it works. If they go overboard on pictures, let your words create images in the reader’s mind.
Fourth, change the advert every time you send it out, rather than publish the same one over and over. But at the same time make life easy for your customers by advertising more regularly than your competitors do. If you see them sending out adverts once every half term, make sure you go out at least twice every half term.
In effect, rather than let your customers know that you are in competition with someone else, you create a scenario in which they are in competition with you. By your style of presentation and continuity of your advertising, you create the perception of your product as the brand leader.
It is very similar to the way shops work. If the display in the shop window is boring or is confused with too many products and messages, people will turn away. Likewise if the shop assistant is dull, people are not attracted – no one buys. So make your sales approach interesting, simple, and easy.
If you have the knowledge and expertise in house to do this, we can offer the delivery of the adverts on a regular basis to teachers and managers in schools through our programmes which send out an email each week, each fortnight, or each month at very low rates.
Alternatively, if you want help we can undertake research, write the adverts, work on your web page – indeed almost anything to help you.
And if I may add a little boast at the end, we are something by way of being experts in this field, not least because we have a constant research programme running selling a range of books and resources with which we are closely associated.
To talk through your particular requirements please call Steve Mister on 01604 880 927 or email Stephen@schools.co.uk
I hope you found this article on Ever considered why it is important to watch your competitors? useful and can relate it to your own products/services even if you don’t work with schools. Please leave a comment below, I would love to know your thoughts on this.