So far in the Building Your Freelance Writing Brand series, you’ve learned:
- The fundamental steps of building a brand
- How Google and the social Web can help you build your brand
- Tips for responding to negative or erroneous publicity
- How to develop and manage your online brand reputation
- Fundamental SEO tips
- How brand loyalty, brand advocacy and word-of-mouth marketing can help your business reach new levels of success
- How to position your brand in consumers’ minds and against competitors
That’s a lot of information! Today, you’re going to learn the fundamental strategies that you can use to market your business and fight against your competitors. In the world of freelance writing, there is a lot of competition, and taking the time to build your brand can help you land more jobs than ever!
There are many ways that businesses use to fight their competitors, but there is no sense in coming up with tactics unless you understand the strategies that drive those tactics. Depending on your market position and market environment in which you’re doing business, your competitive strategies can fluctuate. You need to prepare both offensive and defensive strategies, and fortunately, there are marketing theories that can help you understand and execute attacks and responses from both sides of the field.
Defensive Strategies to Fight Your Competitors
There are four primary defensive strategies in marketing theory:
- Innovation Defensive Strategy: This strategy is also called “the position defense,” and you’re probably already using it. The main idea of this strategy is that you’re maintaining your existing business and working towards growth while protecting your position in your market through innovation. That innovation could be enhancements to your client offerings such as adding a new form of writing to your list of services or promotions like a discount offered on certain writing projects.
- Preemptive Defensive Strategy: If you are constantly on top of what your competitors are doing and know them really well, then following a preemptive defensive strategy could work well for you. Using this strategy, you would attack a competitor before he or she attacks you. For example, if you learn that your top competitor is going to a particular networking event to meet potential clients, you can reach out to those event attendees beforehand to make sure you’re on their radar screens before your competitor even has a chance to say hello. Of course, you need to be at that event, too.
- Counter-offensive Defensive Strategy: This strategy is most effective for the existing market leader or a brand with a big budget to tap into. In short, when a competitor attacks, you respond quickly and launch your own attack against the competitor that is even better. For example, if you learn that your top competitor is going to a particular publisher’s conference to network with potential clients, then you need to not only make sure you’re there t0o, but also thwart your competitor’s plans by ensuring your participation in that conference trumps whatever he or she is planning.
- Strategic Withdrawal Defensive Strategy: If you’ve expanded into areas that aren’t helping you meet your goals or are hurting your business, you need to know when it’s time to withdraw from those areas and reinvest your time and effort into other opportunities that can better help you meet your goals.
Offensive Strategies to Fight Your Competitors
There are three primary offensive strategies in marketing theory:
- Direct Attack: As you might assume, a direct attack happens when you attack your competitors head-on. It’s typically expensive and requires a great deal of planning to effectively attack a competitor successfully. Direct attacks only work when you’re attacking a very specific competitor weakness and clearly differentiating your business from the competitor’s business. However, that differentiator has to be meaningful to your target audience or no one will care.
- Opportunistic Attack: An opportunistic attack is more creative than a direct attack, because instead of attacking head-on, you try to attack more than simply one of your competitor’s weaknesses. You look for opportunities to make yourself look better. With an opportunistic attack, you offer a solution and fill a gap the competitor left open. The attack is more subtle and quite effective.
- Guerrilla Attack: A guerrilla marketing attack is a popular technique for small businesses and entrepreneurs who want to steal market share from larger, established competitors. A guerrilla attack strategy consists of numerous little attacks that are continual and repetitious. The attacks are typically so small that larger competitors aren’t threatened by them and ignore them. The result is often a slow build of awareness that leads to sales for the smaller business.
As your business grows and changes, along with consumer attitudes and the macro-environment in which you do business, you’ll find yourself using a number of different types of offensive and defensive attack strategies to fight your competitors. As long as you have clearly defined goals and a solid understanding of your competitors and customers, then you’ll be equipped with the knowledge you need to effectively fight the competition to grow your brand and your business.