One of the main reasons a business is successful is because it does something better than everyone else. This can cover many issues that, for example, may include the range of products, location, price, market share (both large or niche), quality of service, commitment to environmental issues, delivery times, number of competitors, the use of technology as well as the quality or expertise of staff. Therefore, it becomes critical to understand and determine what your point of difference is so you can gain a competitive advantage.
While initially this may appear a challenge there are two quick steps that you can undertake to determine this. The first step is to ask yourself the following two questions:
- Why is a customer going to buy my product or service?
- Why do customers buy from my competitors?
The first question is critical as you are in effect identifying what value you provide to your customers. Customers are looking for value and if they do not believe you can provide it then they are not going to engage with your business.
The importance of the second question is that you are doing a form of market analysis and trying to identify your competitive advantage. Understanding the market you are operating in will help you to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your business. This does not need to be a complicated exercise as a lot of information can be obtained from the internet.
The second step is to then identify your point of difference (it may be more than one), then develop and implement a strategy to achieve your objectives. Some basic steps to do this include:
- Make sure you know who your market actually is and how to communicate and market to them.
- Ensure that whatever you are offering is of value to your market.
- Listen to your market and respond to their needs in a timely manner.
- Be clear about the objectives of your strategy, how you will achieve them and have realistic timelines.
- Be able to measure the success or effectiveness of your strategy and modify it as needed.
It is important to be able to monitor and assess your competitors as what may be your point of difference today may not be tomorrow, as your competitors try to match what you are doing.