Any typical contender has to deal with intimidation when faced by a significant and strong opponent. Power is persuasive, and we often believe that the big boys are inevitably set to take the victories. However, knowledge – converted into smart strategies – can trump power. And that is why the underdog is very much in the game – also with regards to business.

Here are some suggestions on how to outsmart your business opponents by relying more on acumen than assets:

Be informed

The first step in competing cleverly is to be in the know – constantly. Be aware of the competition’s tactics. This might come as a surprise to you, but if you are in business, you are also a detective! Yes, now is your chance to put on that alias you have always secretly dreamed of being (we are thinking eccentric, pipe-smoking, Victorian gentleman, although you might be more into sexy, feisty and feminine – which is also fine) and let the investigation begin!

Your research first of all needs to entail finding out who the existing and upcoming competition actually is. Google searches, business directories and trade fairs – amongst other sources – might help you in this endeavour.

Next, try to figure out as much as you can about your rivals: What products or services are they selling?

  • What do their branding, marketing and media activities look like?
  • Who is their target market and how good is their customer service?
  • How do they price? How about their distribution and delivery policy?
  • What are their strengths, unique selling points and weaknesses according to clients and staff?
  • What is their business strategy and where are they heading in the future?

These are only a couple of an endless list of questions with potentially insightful answers.

If you are new to the whole spying game, here a few pointers on how to get the story on your suspects… or rather, opponents:

Read articles or reviews about them, look at their marketing literature, study their websites, talk to representatives at trade fairs, enquire a price list from them, hire their services or buy their products to get first-hand experience, ask your own suppliers and customers how you fare against them.

As our man Sherlock Holmes confirms: one needs, “Data! Data Data!” since one, “can’t make bricks without clay.” Get the clay and build yourself some mean business-boosting bricks!

Be innovative

With the facts you have gathered at your disposal, you can now think further than your competition. Anticipate their next move and be ready for it.

If you know the rival well and are fearless of their expected action plan, you can plot to surprise. Instead of trying to beat them at their own game – which they might be playing really well – rather change the rules and beat them at your game! Take a different, unexpected approach. Focus on innovation rather than imitation.

Some examples may include:

  • Do more with marketing on a smaller budget by coming across more passionate, confident or clear, or by being visually more interesting;
  • identify and pursue an untapped niche market;
  • provide the type of client service that your opponents simply cannot top;
  • set up an irresistible loyalty program;
  • offer value-adds – like free products, extended guarantees, access to internet sources, etc.

Maybe you can even form some sort of a win-win alliance with your competition. Of course, your specific field of business will have a unique scope for innovation.

Innovation boils down to figuring out what your value proposition (your unique positioning in the market) will be.

Be incredible

As mentioned above, looking better than your opponent is often the innovative manoeuvre that gets you winning. In the end, people are attracted to good looks! Make sure your brand appears irresistible.

Visual marketing is thus an important part of differentiating yourself and outwitting your rivals. GAWK can help our clients gain this competitive edge through our fresh and research-supported approach to branding.

In conclusion, outwitting rather than outrunning in the business race is all about being ready, resourceful and – of course – ravishing!