Product Marketing

The 3 Secrets to Staying Ahead of the Competition

Written by Therese Padilla

A universal truth: It’s much easier to control the game when you’re ahead of the competition than it is to play catch-up. When you’re in the lead, you can defend your position in the marketplace by countering your competitor’s moves with strategic calm. You can also leverage your current success into ever-bigger market share as you capitalize on your current customers’ goodwill. All that leads to growth and longevity in your industry.

But before you can push your competition aside, you have to know exactly who they are — and what they’re doing. Once you know who your biggest threat is, you’re ready to unlock and deploy the three secrets to staying ahead of them forever.

Secret One: Pay Attention to the Market

This is Business 101, but a lot has changed since you took the course. You need to figure out exactly who your customers are and stay ahead of their needs. Their desires and pain points change, and you need to monitor them closely so you can provide innovative ways to get them what they need. How big is your market segment? Is it growing? If not, you need to find a way to make that happen, or you’ll lose out to your competitors who have already cracked that code. Keep a close eye on how your competition is responding to the market as well — there are lessons to be learned and advantages to be gained from their success and failures, too.

Secret Two: Implement Cross Training in Your Organization

No matter how big your company is, you can definitely benefit from having a flexible, knowledgeable team at the helm. Cross training teaches your employees many different jobs within your organization, and the benefits are twofold. First, you have the flexibility to pull people from one department to another to concentrate on a big push when needed. Second, understanding the whole business gives each employee the insight needed to be more effective at their primary job functions. For example, when sales associates understand IT basics, they can offer enhanced service to customers out front. Cross training keeps your workforce flexible and adaptable to change.

Secret Three: Test Everything

Today’s tech makes it easy to devise and apply metrics to everything from your staff’s efficiency to your product’s uptime and customer’s satisfaction. Prototype and test everything on a small scale before you rush it to market, and keep up the monitoring as you roll things out. Market research is huge, and when you use what you know about your customers, you can figure out what isn’t working. There are no sacred cows here: If something doesn’t work, scrap it and move on. It’s the only way to stay ahead of your competition.

Closing Thoughts

To get ahead, you need to pay attention to both the market and what your competitors are doing in the space. Testing everything against solid metrics and cross training your team to respond to the changing demands of the market will help you respond quickly and effectively. If you streamline your intel, you’ll make tracking the competition a whole lot easier, which frees you up to focus on your product. Find out how to get a handle on the competition by checking out the upcoming webcast How to Streamline Competitive Intelligence: Deliver Fresh Intel Your Teams Can Use in Less Time.

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About the author

Therese Padilla

Therese is President of the Association of International Product Marketing & Management. She is a product management professional with broad experience in all areas of product development and management, including consumer products, enterprise software in startups and large corporate environments. Therese created the first product management certification program at the AIPMM which she co-founded in 1998.