Open markets are great because they create competition and ensure that the consumer gets the best product for the best price. However, these open markets are a pain in the ass for businesses because…well, because they create competition. It’s that infamous double-edged sword, my friends. In all seriousness, competition is great for both the consumer and the business.
Without competition, companies would not bother to be innovative and more than likely would take advantage of their customers charging ridiculous amounts for their products. Nonetheless, competition can be a bit of a pain in the ass. It requires constant research and innovativeness in order not to fall behind your competition. There is, thankfully, a great way to put method to this madness.
The key is, of course, the products that your company offers. Quality wins each and every time, especially if the price difference between products is kept to a minimum. Many people believe that releasing a product before your competitor releases the competition is the best way to guarantee success and profits. However, this is usually not the case.
Take Apple for example. They were not the first to bring the personal computer to the market nor were they the first to release an mp3 player — yet they have conquered the market with their product line. What they did was that they took a good look at the products already available on the market, took a look at the way they were being marketed and improved on both. They made better products and came up with better ways of marketing their products.
The same can be said for Virgin and their approach to each market they enter. Richard Branson takes a look at products that he uses and enjoys, finds things he doesn’t like about them and then improves on them. Branson likes to keep each of his individual companies small and therefore understands the importance of providing the best product and/or service.
Rushing to get your product on the market leaves room for error. Making a proper plan for market entry is also vital and can be half-assed if rushed. Of course, this is not to say that one should meditate on a product or issue for too long. Overthinking can also become an issue. There is no need to perfect your product from the get-go. As long as you feel confident in it and are satisfied with its functions and appeal then you should go ahead and get it on the shelves as quickly as you can; you won’t make a penny until you start selling.
But if you rush over the development process because you are in a hurry to start selling, you may be disappointed when it doesn’t sell. Even more important to keep in mind is that your competition will surely be looking into your product and picking it apart — figuring out what is wrong with it and in what areas their product can improve on where yours struggles. If your product does what it is supposed to do and does it well, however, then get it out there. You can always send updates later down the road or sell “upgrades.” Which is in itself a great way to make more money.
So you let your competitor hit the market first. Or you found a product that you believe could be great if your company produced it. What next? “Next you need to improve it” -- Captain Obvious. You know what you don’t like about the product, now you need to get a team together to come up with ideas on how best to improve it.
This may be something as simple as the design and layout. It could mean adding certain capabilities or removing some, making it simpler to use and less cluttered. It could mean changing the way that it is being marketed or its availability. Maybe the software your competitor is charging for you can distribute for free and then charge for plug-ins?
Maybe you need to figure out the best way to get the product to the consumer. Maybe the customer service you offer can be one of your greatest selling points? There are endless ways of improving a product; it all depends on what you find off with the product in question and your creativity.
The last step is the hardest because when you decide to act, you must do so fast. If your competition already has their product on the market then you must jump in with a fury and a vengeance. You should already have a strategy by the time you jump in, but make sure to keep your plan flexible, as you will surely have to adapt as you see the consumers’ response to your product as well as the response of your competitors.
It’s very unlikely that they will just sit there idly as you take over the market and as their profits begin to go downhill. You have awakened the beast, so be prepared for them to retaliate with their own improved product or marketing campaign. Watch out for their PR and how they are presenting themselves in relevance to your company to the public.
There is a chance that you will get lucky and will be dealing with schmucks that will allow you to walk all over them and to drive their company to the ground — it happens. But don’t bet on it. You can celebrate if that is the case, but only after they go out of business.