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Lesson Two: Identifying Your Competition.
In my experience my competition is any store within 25 miles, which sells the same type of merchandise that I do.  This will include Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Toys R Us, Gamestop, eBay and Amazon.  Anyone who sells what I sell, within 25 miles of me, or who is widely known online.  So, in Magic Cards that would also include Troll, Star City, Channel Fireball and others as well.

Once identified: How do you compete?

Essentially, to compete with someone/thing you need some sort of advantage, and you need to render their advantages insignificant.

Anytime I identify my competition I try to identify what their strengths are, so I can render those insignificant to my customer.  I then try to identify their weaknesses, and build my store to have those same traits as a strength, thus giving me and my company an advantage.

I am going to just take one easy example that many or most retailers may find as a competitor: GameStop.

What are Game Stops Strengths: here are their top 4 to me.
They get first release new games,
They get exclusive POP Vinyl Figures
They get some Exclusive Comic Books.
They have an unending flow of product.

 

To render these insignificant, I do the following:
A.  I don’t carry new release Video Games.  I cannot compete with them for this spot, so I simply refuse to compete there.
B.  I carry a vastly superior selection of Pop Vinyl figures, and I shop them weekly to buy their exclusives, which I sell online at a markup.  We carry every new release from Funko.  I also buy used Funko and resell, and buy exclusives from other sources to offer the best possible selection of exclusive pop figures.  Including Preview Exclusive Funko, which are only available to comic shops.
C.  I order the variant covers for all comics I carry, we have over 200 subscribers for comics, we do online shows about comics, and really service our comics crowd.  I buy all the copies of Gamestop comics I can find, weekly – and resell at a premium.
D.  I also have an unending flow of product.  We use Facebook and 5-Star and Constant Contact to stay in touch and keep our customers informed of what has arrived.

 

What are my advantages:
A.  I pay more for used video games on 90% of titles than Gamestop does.
B.  We carry many more types of systems – from Basic NEW forward, and all the new combo rigs that play older cartridge games.
C.  We buy all the older hand held cartridge games and systems.
D.  We have longer hours than they do.
E.  We allow people to trade their games to us and buy other things we sell they may be interested in, like Warhammer, Magic, Pokemon, Yugioh or other games, movies, music, jewelry, trinkets, comics, board games, swords and a huge list of merchandise that Gamestop cannot supply our customers with.
F.  Most Importantly: We constantly advertise what we buy, not what we sell.  About 20 times a week people mention how much more we pay for games than they do.  And, yet, we cannot maintain our supply due to such high sales rates on everything from Basic NES to PS4.

It’s all about turning your strengths into advantages, and making your competitors advantages unimportant.

 

Next Week a new column focusing on  marketing and advertising, and no: Not the same thing.

 

Marcus King
Owner
Mad Ox Games & Comics
205 N Hill St (corner of E 7th)
London, KY 40741

 

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