What’s the one thing about your company that will attract and keep good customers? What’s your competitive edge?
For entrepreneurs and small business owners, the time is now to evaluate your company. Whether you have a successful business, or you are in the process of trying to build one, it is always important to realize why your customers are going to choose you. Marketing, in essence, is pointing out what you have that your competitors don’t have. But sometimes, the toughest part is simply realizing what that advantage might be.
The trick is becoming a customer. Step out of your shoes for a second and analyze your business from the customer’s perspective. Pretend that you need whatever it is that your company is selling, and analyze your options. Why would you choose a competitor? Why would you choose your own company?
Some areas that you should focus on are customer service, pricing, level of personalization, ease of purchase/access, and design and product features. In some cases, it is important to actually make calls and sign up for free trials to really learn what your competitors are offering, and what they are saying to get the business. This is not only the way to develop your competitive advantage, it is the best way to run a business by being an expert on your industry and knowing the competition as well as you know yourself.
Once you find your biggest competitive advantage, begin to market yourself around that. And, in the same respect, begin to develop that advantage even further. This is where our innovative spirit can take over. You can create a huge edge in an area by doing things that nobody else is doing. Take a look at some established companies that saw an opportunity to exploit an advantage.
Dell Computers did it by personalizing their order process and creating computers as the customer ordered them. They offered the same products at the same prices as other companies, but succeeded by putting more power in the hands of the customer. Walmart did this with their pricing. They were able to exploit their size and relationship with producers to cut out the middleman and create the lowest retail prices available.
When thinking about these companies, and others like them, don’t be afraid to steal ideas from other industries. Could you be the Dell of your industry and offer personalized products and services? Or the Walmart of your industry and cut prices more than anyone else?
Just taking the time to think like this can lead you to new realizations about your own company, which will no doubt lead to new ways to succeed. Most people don’t give themselves enough time to think like this, and they don’t realize that it can really help grow their business. But this is only step 1. Our next blog will focus on innovative ways to market (exploit) these advantages.
Join in the conversation. What’s your competitive edge? How do you choose between companies in an industry? Leave a comment here or email me your thoughts.