Do you have a competitive advantage?
We can all easily convince ourselves that our business is different. We can believe your product or service is truly ground-breaking.
“If customers could see how good we are…”
“If people realised how we could help them”
“Don’t people realise our product is better quality than….”
I am sure you have probably uttered something similar either recently or in times past. When customers do understand and believe the advantage of buying from you rather than your competitor, it makes the difference.
Whether you’re making jet engines, selling advertising space or financial services, you have to show why you are a better choice than your competitors.
It’s also important to recognise that one of your competitors might be inaction or something totally different.
A customer may decide your time-saving solution is not for them and stick with a heavy workload or may decide to save time in a completely different way. The competition isn’t always a rival company.
So with all this in mind, we reach two key points.
- What makes you different from the competition?
- What is your value proposition?
Before we dig into these two questions, let me address their importance. They are very important, critical to the success of your business. Without them, you will win less business and don’t know why. You’ll continue those internal questions I mentioned earlier. Your conversion rate will be low and you will never really prove your worth to the market.
What makes you different from the competition?
In the work I do with companies to help them identify their competitive position in the market, we often come across answers in our strategy sessions which may seem unique but are generic.
Quality…. does anyone offer low quality these days? – If they did, they certainly wouldn’t tell you. I’ve never seen low quality companies that offer low quality products.
Service… Again, does anyone advertise a poor service?
Family business… This is often used to show a company cares more than the big bad beasts. The problem is, it can also cut against you. It may mean your less flexible, smaller or less professional. The family business angle is tricky because it is down to the buyer about how they feel about family businesses.
That leads me to an important point, your differential from the competition is not necessarily something you do, but how you are perceived. Often it is the way you operate your business which highlights the difference between you and your competitor.
Cost… Never position your competitive edge on the grounds of price unless you want to build a business which sells a commodity product or service. There are times when you have to win the work and be the cheapest, but your competitive edge should not be based on the price. You can be efficient and pass on the savings, but your competitive edge is about your efficient process, not the cheapest price.
How you do it, the way you do it is often the key to uncovering your difference between you and the competition. Moving to the value proposition.
A value proposition ties closely into your differentiation in the market. Imagine you have 30 seconds to explain your business to a prospect, in those 30 seconds you must explain what you do, why it is beneficial for the customer and how it is unique. This is essentially a value proposition. A great value proposition will convince the customer you offer a valuable service or product.
Most people spend far too much time on these, create lots of documents that never see the light of day. A value proposition should simply and clearly be in the minds of your whole team, so it becomes part of the culture of the company. The language, messaging and customer interaction showcases the value proposition.
You see both the competitive advantage and the value proposition is not a technical understanding; it is a perceptual understanding.
People have to see and believe your value for themselves. Customers must understand and appreciate your value and place in the market.
The reason many are frustrated is that in an attempt to prove their value to the market, they miss the obvious. It’s not what you say, it is what is interpreted. Everything we do to promote our business is subjective, the success of a strategy, value proposition or competitive marketing plan is in what the prospects and customers believe and act upon.
Developing a competitive market position is challenging in today’s world, but it isn’t impossible. I help people put these together all the time. Having these clearly articulated so a new starter can ‘get you’ is where you should begin.
If you would like to understand how to get a more competitive market position, develop a strong value proposition and execute that into the market. I’d love to talk with you.
Once you have these clearly in place and use them, it is simply a matter of time before you get noticed and see the wins begin to stack up.