So you have a great product...
...but so do a few others out there. Others who’ve been doing this longer than you, have a bigger, more established client base, and a larger piece of the market share pie. What can you do?
Define your competitive advantages. We all have strengths, reasons why our product or business is better for the clients than someone else’s. What are they? Define them, then tell the world!
Let’s say your competitive advantage is great customer service. Sustaining that advantage can be difficult if your business starts to grow exponentially. But, losing it isn’t an option if you want long term success. If you lose the one thing that sets you apart from your competition, your clients will search elsewhere for a better experience.
Creating sustainable competitive advantages
- Establish your brand loyalty. Create an environment that keeps your clients coming back. Loyalty is huge when it comes to creating a sustainable advantage. The more loyal your clients are, the more they will tell their friends about your business, and the more clients you will get. So, not only will they keep coming back to you, they will become brand advocates! A home run for you.
- Patent your product. Maintain your competitive edge by taking away the competition’s ability to remarket your product as their own. Patenting is the most sure-fire way to accomplish this.
- Continually innovate. Make sure the products and services you provide to your clients are constantly fresh, innovative and meeting their constantly evolving needs. This approach will help you stay ahead of the game. Think about a company like Amazon. They started out selling paperbacks in a garage. Now they sell everything and can get it to you in hours. They’ve listened to their customers and maintained their competitive advantage with their ability to continuously innovate.
- Stay “connected.” Sometimes it’s very important to maintain connections with the various organizations and key individuals in order to capture and sustain your competitive advantage. Having at least one member of your team who’s connected to your market’s community can help tremendously in this area.
- Incentives and contracts. Using incentive programs or even long-term contracts can help encourage and guarantee continual business from your clients coming back. Even if it’s just ten per cent off your fifth visit, giving a client that encouragement to stay loyal to you, then rewarding them when they do will do wonders for your client base.
Creating your competitive advantage is all about differentiating yourself from your competition. How can you do that? Try these simple strategies.
- Stay customer-focused. Remember, the customer is why you’re in this business in the first place. If you can manage to stay focused on them, and not get bogged down with administrative, or other tasks, you’ll be in good shape. Concentrate on what the client needs or is asking of you, and then deliver.
- Let them see behind the curtain. Letting the customer see solutions they didn’t think were possible is a great way to help them understand your process, and show them directly how you’re innovating for them specifically.
- Investment vs. purchase. By explaining that your product is an investment, rather than a purchase, your customer feels like they are getting more for their money, and that they're making a smart decision. Think about it like buying a car. A car is not a very good investment as it devalues as soon as you drive it off the lot. However, buying a new car from a dealer with a good reputation for taking care of their clients rather than a used car from a shady dealer is a better investment. Spin it to your clients the same way. They’re making an investment, in you, in themselves, in their time, in their family, or in your product.
- Look at all involved. Make sure you’re selling not only to the decision-maker in the scenario but also to the one who’s affected most by your product. Let’s go back to the car-buying scenario. Say a sixteen-year-old comes into the dealer with her dad. If you only address the dad, who obviously holds the purse strings, the 16-year-old will get annoyed and want to leave, and you lose the sale. Think about how your product affects the person it's designed for and explain how it will best benefit them in a unique and extraordinarily helpful way.
- Don’t compare. Just like when you have more than one kid, don’t compare yourself to your competitors. You open yourself up to a lot of tactless criticism if you do that. Don’t make statements like “Company X takes 3 weeks to deliver, and we can do it overnight.” Because that’ll be the time when something happens and your job goes wrong, and the customer says, yeah well they take longer but they’ll do the job right. Stick to telling the clients what you can do for them. Stay as professional as possible, and that alone may set you apart from your competitors, giving you the advantage!
- Create value. Your product needs to create value for your client. You will have to take the time to understand what’s valuable to them, then tell them how your product meets that need. Is it time they value?
- Explain how your product can streamline their lives, saving them time. Or maybe it’s money they value, they’re looking for the best deal. If your product isn’t the cheapest on the market, explain how it’s a better long-term investment due to your long-standing customer service relationship and the quality of your product. No matter what your client’s needs, explain how your product meets them to create value for them. Defining your competitive advantage will set your business and products apart from anyone else on the market, solidifying your client base and the long-term success of your business. It’s important, not only to create your advantages but to maintain them as your client base grows.
- Achieving and sustaining your leg up among your competition is vital to creating a healthy, successful business model that is sure to grow exponentially over the years.