Creating Competitive Advantage

A competitive advantage in the marketplace makes a mere opportunity into a GOLDEN opportunity. But you must know how to identify your advantage and even more importantly, how to capitalize on it.

creating competitive advantage

Do you think you know what your company’s key advantages are to your customers? If you said yes, you may need to think again.

Creating Competitive Advantage: Give Customers a Reason to Choose You Over Your Competitorscreating competitive advantage, written by Jaynie L. Smith and William G. Flanagan, is a book that is relevant, to the point, and useful to any manager or leader of an organization who desires to get to the heart of their organization’s key opportunities within the marketplace.

"If you don’t have a specific advantage, don’t compete.”

- Jack Welch, former GE, CEO

It does not matter whether you are in retail sales, manufacturing, distributing goods or providing a useful service, if you fail to differentiate yourself from the competition and state the difference clearly to your customers and employees, you will be sure to lose both in short order.

Leaders today must be able to succinctly answer the question “Why should I do business with you.. and not your competition?"

Smith makes the point that if your primary answer(s) is "customer service" or "lower pricing", you're missing the boat.  While service delivery is important, service alone is not your competitive advantage. Timely service delivery is a basic expectation from your your customer, therefore it's not the basis for stating your competitive advantage.

What Is Competitive Advantage?

Delivering the "right stuff" to customers, or would-be customers, is key to identifying your best selling points.

The authors provide countless stories and examples that help the reader to take a step back and begin viewing their advantage in the marketplace through a more specific lens.

Businesses often provide a lot of extras to their customers without realizing it.  Your ability to save a customer time and money, or to provide greater convenience and minimize any confusion or aggravation are the types of things that can create an advantage over your competition. 

Co-author Jaynie Smith talks to business owners around the country about how to increase profitability by selling more effectively by knowing what your real selling points are.  Take a listen... 

Here are just a few examples of opportunities to set your apart from the competition:

  • Terms & Conditions - saving a customer money does not have to equate to lowering your price. Savings money can come from providing better purchasing terms, which can help their cash flow position.
  • Guarantees - customers feel more secure when they purchase a product that has a strong guarantee. If the standard guarantee is 1 year but you feel comfortable offering a 3 year guarantee because your produce using better quality parts, your customer may be willing to spend more for a longer term guarantee.
  • Information - in many businesses the customer base is like-minded, they all are attracted to your business or product for similar reasons. In business, as in war, intelligence can be priceless. How you gather, manage and use customer information can determine your level of success. Stay up to speed on changes within your industry and share that information regularly with your customer base to differentiate your business.
  • Training/Workshops - offering specialized training so customers can more effectively use your product(s) can be a great selling point, and it allows your team to build stronger relationships with the customer. 

By identifying the key advantages for your business, you are protecting your business from going the route of price-based competition. Review your standing in the marketplace on a regular basis in order to pro-actively respond to an ever changing marketplace.

"Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle."-

- Napoleon Hill

Ask Your Customer

If you can't figure out what your best selling points are, or could be, then you need to ask your customers - they do know!

creating competitive advantage

Having a direct link to your customers that will tell you precisely what they want and whether or not your organization is meeting the customer’s needs, is an essential activity to ensure the long-term success of your company.

If you do not have this in place, make it happen right away – the return on investment will quickly overshadow the cost.

"Experience monumental growth once your are armed with knowing what your true competitive advantage is!"

By identifying and fully evaluating your competitive advantages, you’ll uncover even more benefits of your product or service that you ever thought possible.

Keep a sharp eye on your competition. Continually assess what they are doing, and whether or not they are doing something better than you are. Find out what they do and make certain you outperform them every single time.

Lastly, it's important to remember that competitive advantages are always moving targets, so you must continually reassess the market to ensure your business remains relevant and leading the pack in meeting the needs of your customers.

Business owners and team leaders alike will benefit from reading Creating Competitive Advantage: Give Customers a Reason to Choose You Over Your Competitorscreating competitive advantage. We recommend it.

Author Bio's

Jaynie L. Smith is the founder of ICS Marketing and president of Smart Advantage, Inc., a management consultant organization whose clients include hundreds of middle-market businesses.

William G. Flanagan has been a writer and editor at Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Esquire, and New York magazine. 

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