Later on this month I will judge student graduates of two programs conducted by Empowered Women International. One program is for students learning the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, the other program is for women who have already initiated their own business.
Students will have to answer various questions and the judges are there to give advice. I kind of chuckled when I saw one of the questions, “What is your competitive advantage?” Make no mistake – this is a very important question. What made me chuckle is the fact that many businesses don’t have a clear idea of what their advantage is. That is a problem. Once you know your advantage, it’s much easier to market your product or services.
We ask our prospective clients that same question. Most of the time, the answer we get back is not very helpful. Here’s what we usually hear:
We’re very professional.
Our customer service is top-notch.
We are more experienced.
Did I put you asleep? Hope not. But truly, what these companies have just said really doesn’t say anything at all. I don’t know one law firm that would say they were “unprofessional.” Every dry cleaner will tell you that their service is the best. And how many architects do you know that will say they are not experienced? I know you can do better than that!
Dig deeper. To find and promote your competitive advantage, you have to really think about what your company does and why clients come to you. What do they see in you that makes them say, “I need to talk to that business? I want to find out what they can do for me.”
Why is your competitive advantage so important? Every business has competition. Think about the last networking event you went to. How many bankers were at the same event? Were there several financial planners? And what about real estate agents – were there 2-3 at your event? So if there is this much competition, how do your prospects decide who to use? Is it just a chance meeting? Did you just happen to talk to them at the right time?
Being remembered. OK, so maybe you do get a client because you are in the right place at the right time. That’s great. But don’t you want to have more pull when it comes to clients? If you have a true competitive advantage, prospects will seek you out to work with you. So how do you identify your particular advantage?
Here are some ideas. Finding your competitive advantage takes thought. Try answering some of these questions and maybe you’ll start to identify your particular strengths.
- Why did you get into business?
- Was there a particular event that inspired you to start your own company?
- What is the history behind your company?
- What would your best client say about your business?
- What would your worst client say?
- Is there something you do, no matter how small, that your competitors do not?
Ask your clients. Now, pick up the phone and ask your clients why they work with you. Let them talk. You might be surprised at some of the answers you get.
Brainstorm. After you’ve answered the questions above and talked to a few clients, gather some people together and do some brainstorming. It doesn’t need to take a long time. Buy everyone a cup of coffee and ask for their feedback. Ask for their honesty and try out a few ideas. See what sticks. Every company has an advantage – it’s up to you to find out what it is and then express it in a way that makes people think.
Need help? Make It Count Marketing would love to sit down with you and hear what your company is all about. We’ll help you identify your competitive advantage so your marketing gets results! Give us a call at 301-467-2501.