How to Get a Competitive Advantage in 4 Easy Steps
What makes someone choose FitBit over Jawbone, Ultimat over Absolut, SalesForce over Microsoft Dynamics or Apple over Blackberry (aside from the Fruit ruling the world)? Some of it is just pure preference. Some of it is convenience. But truth be told, our buying decisions are based on a whole host of reasons, including some measure of differentiation that gives a competitive advantage. It’s about getting an edge over your rivals – no matter how incremental - so that you can generate greater value. And if that competitive edge is sustainable it’s that more difficult for competitors to neutralize the advantage.
No matter what business you’re in (tech, retail, services) getting a competitive advantage in today’s extra crowded and extra noisy world, is one tough sell. But as marketers, it’s our job to find out what those differentiators are and leverage them as your competitive advantages.
So what are some differentiators that may lure customers/clients in your direction?
Applications have been built strictly on being the lowest price available (think TrueCar, RetailMeNot), so companies can absolutely differentiate by offering lower prices than the competition. It can definitely be a great strategy, especially if you offer consumer goods. It’s also a good strategy if you are entering a marketplace already crowded with numerous competitors. You do need to make sure that your prices aren’t too low – and certainly keep a watchful eye on your competitive space should their pricing drastically change as well.
Perhaps you offer a more favorable shopping experience than your competitors (think Nordstrom, Amazon, Chik-Fil-A). (Check out USA Today’s Customer Service ‘Hall of Fame.’) Aside from offering attentive customer service, it’s also about offering convenient location, faster service, more hours of operation and additional purchasing methods such as online shopping or free delivery.
Are you an innovator in your particular market? In this make or break economy, it’s all about working towards being the first to offer new products or services. Customers may choose you over your competitors if they expect to see something new and different each time they enter your establishment, as opposed to the "same old thing" offered by the others. This strategy can work in a market filled with older, established businesses where customers are anxious for change.
Specialization (we like this one from Academia)
“It is often difficult for small businesses to attempt to meet the needs of an entire market, as they may not have the financial resources or selling space. A better approach can be to specialize in one particular aspect. Instead of opening a general automotive repair garage, for instance, consider specializing in brake repair or auto detailing. Over time, you can establish yourself as an expert in your field and carve out your own niche in the market.”