Regardless of your specialties, your niche, or the size of your market share, you’re going to run into stiff competition at some point. If you want to beat the competition, you have to stay ahead of it. Here’s how.

1. Deepen Your Relationships

Building and continually maintaining great relationships with your customers is one of a few key aspects of protecting your business. Your direct competitors are always looking for a way to expand market share, and more often than not, they’re going to want to convert your customers. To combat potential poaching, build on the relationships that you’ve already created with your customers in the initial selling process.

Deepening and broadening your existing relationships is sometimes as simple as making a phone call, or finding other creative ways to keep in touch. Maybe it’s an original marketing campaign that keeps your brand at the forefront of your industry, or maybe it’s developing a weekly mailer or monthly newsletter.

Your communications should develop trust and a deeper familiarity with your business in the minds of your customers. Remember the most important people in your key accounts — these people need to know who you are and what your business is about.

2. Communicate Your Value

In addition to developing deeper trust and familiarity, great communication should also include the value that your bring your customers. Integrating your value in to your regular communication further separates your from the competition and keeps your customers’ attention.

You can also continually demonstrate your value in formal settings; within meetings and regular calls. This tactic ensures that you’re targeting the important people with facts and statistics about the value that you’ve always brought to them.

3. Build and Leverage Your Knowledge Base

Leverage the knowledge base you’ve accumulated about your industry, any related industries, and all of your competitors to keep your customers around. Do so by sharing this information with your customers and encouraging them to ask questions.

Being a great resource strengthens the trust in your relationships, and introduces a second value: It’s an added advantage over your competitors to not only offer a product but to offer a knowledge resource as well.

If you can, ask your customers to let you know of any poaching attempts. With a deep knowledge of your competitors, you can craft the most effective campaigns, counter offers, and favors to your customers to keep competitors at bay. Any bonuses, freebies or premiums you offer as a result will reinforce your position.

4. Innovate and Adapt

Always look toward the future. With the proper investment in forward-thinking strategies and a few well-calculated risks, you can develop the reputation of innovation within your industry. As an early adopter of the right technologies and perhaps being the source of a game-changing innovation or two, your customers won’t want to look elsewhere.

Keeping your current systems up to date and staying on the cutting edge of the latest technologies can push your business ahead of the competition. Whether it’s adopting a new technology, such as accepting mobile payments, or taking advantage of new technologies, such as mobile marketing, in your communication strategies, you can be successful in holding off potential poachers by continually enhancing your customers’ experience with your business and your brand.

Protecting your customer base is important in any industry, and there are many tactics out there that attempt to keep customers from looking around. Turnover happens, and you’ll inevitably lose some customers at some point, but with a focus on relationships, value, knowledge and technology, you should be able to keep your key customers aboard and hold off poaching attempts from other businesses.

Author Bio: Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a firm that provides supports with accepting credit cards their customers. She brings more than 15 years of experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management, and marketing to the company and also serves on its Board of Directors.

This post was submitted by a contributor. Check out our Contributor page for details about how you can share your ideas on starting a business, productivity or life hacks with our audience.