It’s natural to be intrinsically focused when designing, developing, and ultimately launching your own website. You’re thinking about your brand, the content you want to develop, and of course, the products and services you want to sell. You want to look good in front of your prospects and customers – and generate revenue to keep the business going.
So it’s also natural to neglect the challenge presented by the competition.
If you’ve written a business plan, you might have already outlined and studied the competition. But after you launch your website, those competitors will stop being hypothetical constructs and start being active traffic siphons, drawing visitors away from your domain.
If you’re launching a website in a fundamentally new industry or niche, you might not have much (if any) competition to deal with at first launch. But it’s only a matter of time before others sniff out what you’re doing and launch sites of their own to contend with you.
No matter what, competition can be a problem. So what’s the best way to handle the situation?
First, you need to analyze your competitors. Who are these people and why do they pose a threat to your business?
These are some of the most common types of threats you might face:
If you’re emerging in a market that has already been established, you might find the greatest challenge overcoming the brand power and familiarity that a company has already developed.
In this industry, this company may already be known as a valued leader. They might have already poured years of effort and hundreds of thousands of dollars into their marketing efforts. It’s hard to overcome the influence of a business that’s already so entrenched.
This company may also have a pure edge when it comes to visibility. If this competitor is currently dumping money into marketing or having a robust advertising strategy, they may already dominate the search engine results pages (SERPs), social media, and other forms of online visibility. This makes it an uphill battle to get seen by your target demographics.
Your top concern with a competitor could be their natural agility. If they have a lot of capital, a plan for development, and ample flexibility, they could easily outmaneuver you – even if you put a highly competitive strategy in place to deal with them.
Your competitor could have an advantage over you due to expertise or perceived authority. This is similar to the familiarity/brand power issue in that your competitor may already be entrenched in the minds of your shared target demographics.
It’s often hard to close the gap if this company literally has more years of experience in this field than you.
Let’s not forget the basics – if your competitor offers the same product at a lower price, or if their product is strictly better in some way, you’ll find it hard to illustrate yourself as the superior option.
Once you understand who your competitors are and how they work, you’ll be in a much better position to devise a counterstrategy.
If your website is already launched or about to be launched, it’s too late to drop the business idea or fundamentally reconstruct it. Instead, you’re going to have to work with what you have.
You can use countless strategies to get an edge over the competition, but most of them fall into one of two broad categories: confrontation or avoidance. Confrontation doesn’t mean getting into an altercation with the other business, mind you – it simply means you’ll be attempting to directly contend with your competitors, with tactics like:
These strategies can be powerful, but there are two main issues with them. First, you may not have the creative ideas or business infrastructure necessary to back these plays. Second, these can be expensive, taking you out of the running before you can earn the benefits.
Instead, you may want to practice avoidance strategies, which allow you to circumvent the competition entirely. For example:
Of course, if your competition is fierce and your adjustments aren’t allowing you to build momentum, you may have to consider pivoting the business/website entirely – or closing the business and starting something completely new.
After launching the website and making some adjustments, you’re not out of the woods. Your competitors aren’t stagnant hurdles to overcome, but instead are living, breathing organisms that are constantly evolving to overcome you. “Defeating the competition” or “overcoming the competition” are poor names for this strategy since they imply that there’s a point where you’re done.
Instead, you have to remain vigilant at all times, knowing that at any moment, a new competitor could emerge or an old competitor could invent something new to threaten your business.
Therefore it’s important to have a monitoring and observation strategy in place, so you can get a fair warning that a competitor could be a threat – and proactively design and implement new strategies to deal with them.
When launching a website, you can hope for limited competition, but sooner or later, you’ll have to deal with the threat of businesses like yours encroaching on your territory. The more flexible you are, and the more attention you pay to your competitors’ development, the better your chances of success will be.
Image Credit: gratisography; pexels; thank you!
Originally appeared in ReadWrite