Whatever industry you happen to be in, it is always going to help you to maintain an edge over your competitors if you can keep yourself informed and updated on the latest innovations.
Rapid improvements in technology have meant that many industries have benefited from improved equipment and resources, so if you looking at finishing systems or whatever is relevant to your particular line of business, it definitely pays to try and maintain a cutting edge.
No substitute for customer research
Asking your customers what they think about your business and what they would like to see you offer, is a proven way of keeping one step ahead and is a tactic that you need to employ on an ongoing basis.
In order for your business to stay relevant and evolve successfully, you always need to be sure that you are in tune with your customers. This is an approach that is relevant across any type of industry, as it makes no difference whether you offer a service or a product, you need to be able to give your customer what they want.
Another valuable source of information that you can glean from customer research is to find out from their feedback whether they are making use of an offering that a competitor might be providing, which will be a valuable pointer as to whether you need to upgrade your own resources or offerings in order to maintain a competitive edge.
Getting feedback from your customers is much easier these days, with social media and email at your disposal, so don’t miss the chance to find out what your customers are thinking and wanting.
It is also much easier for your business to get valuable industry insights sent straight to you, rather than having to search them out.
Signing up to various relevant Twitter feeds, email subscriptions and other such sources, will mean that you are likely to find out about any industry developments such as product launches or rival company news, almost as quickly as they are announced.
This can be highly relevant, as you can interpret and digest the news and decide if you need to take any course of action or respond to any developments, so that you keep your business in tune with the market and customer demands.
Agility is key these days
Businesses have always needed to try and evolve in order to enjoy continued success but what is particularly noticeable, is the pace of how things change, meaning that you have to demonstrate a fair amount of agility to stay ahead.
The days of formulating a marketing strategy on an annual basis are probably behind us, as many industry markets tend to change direction much more rapidly than that these days.
Agility is the key to maintaining an edge, as you are more likely to benefit from having a more in-the-moment approach to making the most of new developments and opportunities. If you spot a potential niche or learn of a new product or initiative that could benefit your business and your customers too, you want to be in a position where you can react and act swiftly.
Industry trends and consumer behaviour can change almost in an instant, which means that if your business is not agile enough to respond almost immediately to a particular situation, it could conceivably get left behind, in virtually no time at all.
Inside track from your sales team
If your business has a sales team, they will obviously be in regular contact with your customers and therefore in a good position to provide some valuable insights from a useful and reliable source.
Every member of your sales team will have a good idea of what they are competing against on a daily basis, which means that they will be in a position to give you some valuable insights into why they are winning or losing deals.
Both scenarios provide useful information that you can use. If you know what your customers like and why they are buying from you, you can work on doing more of the same, but if you are not winning as many orders as you would have hoped, you can find out from your sales team what it is that your competitors have got or offering, that is giving them an advantage.
Getting this inside track could be invaluable and just one way of retaining a cutting edge in your industry.
Lola Collier has years of experience running her own successful business. She is keen to support small, and local, establishments and especially enjoys helping other women succeed in business. She writes articles, answers questions and occasionally gives talks to inspire others to go into business for themselves.