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Know Thy Competition

Once you break from ho-hum marketing, and learn to put your deeper beliefs and values into your promotion, a remarkable thing will happen: You will beat your competitors at every turn, attract precisely those clients who really need and appreciate the products or services your company provides, and have a really good time in your business. In other words ? once you know what your clients really value, and how you are different from your competitors then it's an incredibly simple process to promote your company's products or services.

Think about it: If you really know what is of value to your clients, what they want and need, and what you could offer that your competitors do not, it's easy to get the business from the clients you want. This also makes it completely simple to know exactly what to say in your 'promotional messages'. You're conveying the fact that you offer something of interest, you do it well, how you're completely different from others who do the kinds of things yourcompany does, and really connect emotionally with those who need your services.

Here's an 8 step process to get started:

1. FIND YOUR COMPETITORS. Yes, everyone has them although almost every company I work with initially says they don't have any. It's just not true. Google the keywords that describe your company such as; "marketing consulting" or "IT Support in Kalamazoo", you'll find them.

2. MAKE A LIST OF WHAT YOUR COMPETITORS CLAIM. Make a list in one column of what main verbs or nouns your competitors are using. In the case of my company, which does marketing, the list is: consulting, business management, promotional design, copywriting, market research, websites, advertising, marketing plans and so forth.

3. LIST WHAT YOU OFFER, in detail. In another column make a list of what you offer.

4. FIND WHAT IS SIMILAR. Circle the words in both columns that are basically similar in meaning.

5. FIND THE DIFFERENCES. Now highlight the words in your column that are different. Remember, it doesn't necessarily have to be a product or service that is completely different, but maybe the way you offer that service. For example, my company looks into the soul of a company to find out what really is meaningful to them with our unique process that allows them to attract clients that are really right (and ripe!) for them, rather than just spam everyone with tons of promotion like most marketing consultants recommend.

What does yours do? [Hint: do NOT say "we give good service" because that is what virtually everyone on the planet THINKS sets them apart. It doesn't. It's passé, boring and completely meaningless since it's oversaturated in our contemporary vocabulary.] Go ahead, be creative, not boring. Everyone will appreciate it and you'll get more clients.

ASK YOUR CLIENTS. Now ask some of your colleagues, friends or clients to tell you truthfully what they value about you. When you fully understand what makes your clients tick (and more importantly, what they love ? or don't love -- about doing business with you), you can promote those qualities to other potential markets.

Add those comments to your own column and highlight the phrases that are unique from your competitors. Your clients will exactly know how you are different, better, and more valuable to them-and you may even learn a few things you could change to make your offerings even more perfect for them!

We find hiring a researcher gets you the very best answers the most honestly. But if you cannot afford this, send a very short questionnaire to clients asking them some very specific questions about what is of value, what is not.

Best to incentivize your clients for the time it takes them to answer these questions, since everyone's time is valuable. You could try offering movie tickets, one of your products, some of your time for free, or whatever you think THEY would appreciate. At some point, be sure to get a pro to do this 'client evaluation' because you'll get much deeper, more useful testimonials you can use in your promotional materials that those quickie survey answers just don't generate as well.

6. INVESTIGATION LEADS TO RESULTS. When you do this investigation, many wonderful surprises emerge. You might find that your clients need other services you could offer, or that you are undervaluing your services and could easily raise your prices (this is actually a very common discovery). Also, you might find that a simple change to your invoice system would make everyone much happier. Or, you might learn that even though you believe you offer lightning-fast response time, your clients don't perceive it that way. From this information, you can often make improvements that lead to significantly more income.

7. ASSEMBLE YOUR CONTENT. Now take all those phrases and keywords you highlighted and put them on a page, add a bit of your true soul and beliefs about your company (you have some passion, presumably, otherwise why would you start your own business?) to build emotion, and then list your services or product descriptions. If you're not an experienced writer, hire one to help you. Need advice or a referral? Call us. Or ask your competitors. I do.

8. CREATE THE BUZZ. Now consider the last company you heard about that totally gripped you. You wanted to tell all your friends about it, because it had such an intriguing affect on you, right? In marketing, it's all about creating that "buzz" - you want to evoke that reaction in your audience (or target market) through your marketing materials, your print ads, TV commercials, presentations, networking, and of course ? by doing great work, which offers lots of value! So, take this information and get it out to the world in any and every way you can.

Marketing research, evaluating your competitors so you can promote your own unique capabilities, and gaining the confidence to let the world know about your talents, is the reward. Get the information first because truly 'Knowledge is Bliss'.

Allison Bliss Consulting, the creator of "Marketing as a Spiritual Practice" method, rebels against misleading, pushy, spam-filled marketing offering Fortune 500 companies and entrepreneurs an integrated range of do-it-yourself marketing products & customized marketing strategy, plans, promotional materials, websites, and hands-on services.

Having studied with Frances Ford Coppola and other film greats, Bliss is a member of the Directors Guild of America where she crafted hundreds of films, tv shows, and commercials. She moved into marketing to help worthy business get noticed, and because she figured they needed her help more than Hollywood did. Her website offers tools to make marketing idiot-proof for under $20

In The News:

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Scientists in the US have devised a way of testing to see if olive oil is real without the use of hi-tech scientific equipment.

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