How to Steal Customers from Your Competitors

Your competitors can be a good source of business for you. If someone is using the services of a competitor, they’ve already been sold on the idea of using a product or service like yours. Now you need to sell them on working with you. As a follow-up to my last post, “How to Keep Your Best Customers,” here are some lessons from Apple’s success with the iPhone on how to steal customers from the competition:

1. Create a Great Product: This falls under the category of “common sense, but not common practice,” but your offering has to be better than the competition’s. People only go through the hassle of switching to improve something.

2. Create a New Need: A friend once said to me, “I’m looking at the iPhone because I need an mp3 player and email on my phone.” Huh? When exactly did we start to need to listen to our entire music collection on our phones? Apparently, when Apple told us we did. Creating a need is one step up from simply having a good product. You can also uncover a need that no one is serving.

3. Create Evangelists: If you say you’re great, no one believes you, but if your customer says you’re great, everyone listens. Find ways to create and showcase evangelists for your solutions.

4. Create Marketing Buzz: It’s safe to say that Apple has generated millions (if not billions) of dollars of free advertising with the hype about each and every iteration of the iPhone. While you may not have access to that kind of free coverage, don’t neglect your marketing. A superior solution alone won’t get you sales if no one knows about it.

5. Offer “Sticky” Solutions: With over 300,000 apps in the iPhone store, apple may be right that “there’s no limit to what you can do” with an iPhone. From downloading recipes, to conducting credit card transactions, the app store helps the iPhone insinuate itself into nearly every part of your life. “Sticky” solutions also help you keep your customers once you’ve got them.

6. Overwhelm the Competition with Volume: Having so many apps for the iPhone creates an interesting positive feedback loop: the app store has so many apps that people keep designing more apps for it, establishing the iPhone as the undisputed app leader. This volume makes the iPhone more attractive. What can you do to leverage the volume of solutions you provide to become the heavyweight in your area?

7. Keep Improving: Once you’ve got a great solution causing defections from your competitors, don’t stop there. Keep improving your offering, your marketing and your service to stay ahead of the game. Each new generation of iPhones is better than the last to the extent that many people with perfectly good “old” phones automatically upgrade when a new one comes out.

Is the iPhone perfect? No, but the virtual stampede of cell phone users that switched cell phone carriers solely to get the phone provides fantastic example of how to take customers from your competition. Happy stealing.

Next Post: Get More Clients with Strong Language that Highlights Your Value.

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