How to capitalise on failing competitors

It can be tempting to revel in the struggles of one of your competitors, to think about scooping up their market share, taking their best employees, and confirming your status as the best in the business.

But just because one of your competitors is going down, it doesn’t automatically mean you’re going up. More than anything, a competitor’s failures are a time to look, listen, learn and carefully decide on the best course of action.

In this guide we’ll advise you on how you can take the opportunity and profit from a competitor’s failure.

See it as an opportunity, not a success

As we said, a competitor failing isn’t an automatic win for you. More than anything it’s an opportunity for you to seize. This is something for you to bear in mind and something to communicate to your employees. Remind your team of your key values and commitments, but don’t let them lapse into complacency or self-congratulation.

This is also the perfect time to remind customers of your strengths. Don’t flood everyone’s inboxes and social feeds with negative content gloating about your competitor’s downfall or highlighting where they went wrong. The smart move is to outline your strengths and let them speak for themselves. Position yourself as the best, not just better than the worst.

Understand where your competitors are going wrong and avoid the same errors

It is not only valuable to recognise and understand where your competitor has gone wrong, it’s also important for your own long-term security. When a competitor of yours is struggling it’s the best time to do some due diligence and learn a few lessons that could well save your business one day.

What bad decisions and mistakes did they make? Maybe they partnered up with the wrong company, or hired the wrong employees, or maybe they ran a disastrous media campaign. Also, what outside threats have affected them? If they’re a direct competitor, then it’s likely they’re the kind of threats that you could be facing, too.

Whatever it was that went wrong, it’s important that you know about it, so that you can avoid making the same errors and prepare your business to withstand what your competitor couldn’t. A failing competitor offers a golden (and very rare) opportunity: to learn from mistakes without making them.

What are customers saying?

A failing company guarantees one thing: complaining customers. When one of your competitors is going down, find out what their customers are complaining about, analyse that information, and use it.

This can easily be done by looking at social media channels, industry forums and even your competitor’s website. The further you dig, the more you’ll be able to pinpoint key moments where they went wrong. Whether that’s a failing product or a negative media story, it’s something you should know about.

In general, keeping a track of customer reviews about your competitors is an incredibly simple and effective way to identify the areas in which they’re going wrong and, therefore, some of the areas in which you can distinguish yourself.

Once you’ve got this information, highlight it! If your competitors are getting negative reviews about their customer service, then you could do a social media post sharing positive reviews of your customer service. If customers are complaining about a competitor’s pricing, run an email campaign highlighting the value for money you offer.

This kind of marketing could help you to draw in the customers that your rivals pushed away.

Are you already making the same mistakes?

This can be scary to think about when looking at a struggling competitor, but you should always bear in mind that it could be you. It might be the case that your competitor is merely a little further down a road that you’re travelling on, too.

So, once you’ve identified their poor decisions, what’s wrong with their workplace culture, or what their customers are complaining about, take a look at your own business and ask: “Are we making the same mistakes?”

If you’ve positioned yourself in a similar way to your competitor, then you could be heading in the same direction. That’s one of the key advantages that comes with properly analysing a failing competitor: you can rectify mistakes you’ve made, before it’s too late.

Decide on the best course of action, and take it

You’ve analysed the mistakes, you’ve analysed what customers are saying, and you’ve analysed your own business model. The key thing now is: be proactive.

Build a strategy based on everything you’ve learned about how, where and why your competitor failed. This is the best way to capitalise on all the opportunities this scenario offers.

By learning the lessons, succeeding where they failed and, overall, offering something that they couldn’t, you will impress both consumers and the broader market.

Looking for more industry insights? Take a look at our other articles:
Will your business scale up through acquisition in 2019?
Business trends to watch out for in 2019
A third of UK businesses slow to adopt modern tech

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