What IS Your Competitive Advantage?

Competitive Advantage???  What exactly is that, right?  It’s the fundamental reason you are the awesome client magnet you are today!  (or you will be shortly.) 

The other day, a dear friend called to ask for some direction on behalf of a ‘friend of a relative’ she was trying to advise. I listened to the entire situation and was about to suggest it was a ‘been there, nothing new, move along’ idea when she mentioned one tiny thing. Apparently, the folks were masters on a small (but mighty) piece and could personalise it for EACH customer.

I mean easily personalise it in such a way, that the customer’s life would forever be changed — in a really good way. (And surprise, surprise. It was NOT with a piece of technology. It was with an old fashioned person to person idea which could be ‘prettied up.’) I yelled stop! That’s it. That piece right there is their competitive advantage! And here’s how they can maximize it to their advantage …

NOBODY in the market does that small but mighty piece they add. NOBODY. And the THAT is where they can easily cement their reputation, stake their claim on their point of differentiation and by extension stand apart from their competition. It would cost peanuts to incorporate that piece into the regular sales and marketing process and yet they could charge three to five times more than they are currently planning. Their THAT is how they will make a huge impact in their corner of the world.

My friend was thrilled our ten-minute conversation was so productive because she now had several ways to help her friends; I was happy to help. Then I started to think about many of the business leaders I have met up with lately.

Several leaders tell me their competitive advantage is their product. Full stop. Or their nice people. Nice!!!???? Or their excellent customer service. Mic drop. Frankly, none of these statements makes any sense to me.

According to the google machine, “competitive advantages are conditions that allow a company or country to produce a good or service of equal value at a lower price or in a more desirable fashion. These conditions allow the productive entity to generate more sales or superior margins compared to its market rivals.

Competitive advantages are attributed to a variety of factors including cost structure, branding, the quality of product offerings, the distribution network, intellectual property, and customer service.”

And these words seem to point very closely to the age of yesteryear. The age of making things. The age where it was winning at all costs, damn the world we live in, we are out to kill, and only the fittest will survive. Frankly, most of us know those days are pretty much over!

Which got me thinking perhaps our definitions are now completely muddled. After all, we live and work with multi-generations. Who all have multi-educations and multi-experiences. I mean we all like to be multi-taskers these days and surely we are also multi-thinkers. It stands to reason then, we are awash in multi-definitions. Right?

So let me re-ask the question — a different way

What is it about you or your product or service that is different from the rest of the marketplace that you operate in? What is it about you (or your company) that makes you a magnet for your type of customer?

I ask you to spend some serious time pondering this.

And for your own sake, make sure your answer is easily replicable, includes NO reference to cost or affordability and is not dependant on just one or two people or accounts. Because while you will agree with me that you NEED to understand the fundamental reason you are such a ‘client magnet’, those other three things will help ensure you stick around long term to play in your marketplace.

To your success!