If your competitive advantage isn’t clear to you … how can it be clear to your customer?
Here’s a question for you…
If the next customer that walks into your office or store asks you “Why should I give you my business rather than take it to a competitor?” How would you answer?
Seriously. How would you answer? Before you read any further, try to enunciate what you’d say.
More often than not, when business people are asked that question you’ll get one of three different types of response. The first type is where they look perplexed and stare vacantly back at you. The second type is where they snigger and say “Because I need the money!”
Sorry, but neither of those responses will encourage anyone to do business with you.
And the third type of answer is where they at least have a crack at it. This is where people say something like “Well, because we give great service, we’ve got a terrific quality product, and because we offer keen prices.”
That’s a start. But the problem is that if that very same customer was to walk next door and ask a competitor the same question, they’d probably respond by saying something like “Well, because we give great service, we’ve got a terrific quality product, and because we offer keen prices.”
And there goes your supposed competitive difference.
The customer is the most logical beast on earth. No customer will choose to willingly deal with a supplier which offers an inferior “package”.
Instead, they’ll always strive to find a supplier who gives them something more than they can get elsewhere. That “something more” might be as simple as a higher level of service, or it might be a higher quality product, or it might be undercover parking, or child minding, or cheaper prices, or better looking staff, or a friendlier smile … or something else.
Whatever the case, it’s critically important we recognise that the customer wants (what they perceive to be) the best deal.
And … here’s the point … if you can’t instantly answer the question about why a customer should choose to deal with you rather than with a competitor, then it’s obvious that you don’t know what your own “specialness” is.
That’s tragic, because if you can’t define your difference … then it’s an absolute certainty that your customers won’t be able to clearly discern what’s special about you either.
For as long as that’s the case, you can only expect that you’ll lose as much business as you win.
The answer, as always, is self-evident. If right now you can’t define, in a snappy sentence or two, precisely what it is that makes you the best supplier of your particular good or service to your target market … then spend some time thinking about what that snappy sentence or two should be.
Define your true “specialness.” Or, to use the jargon term, define your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). For as long as you fail to do so, you’re doomed to sit in the middle of the market, scratching out a living.
But get it right … and you’ll need bigger bags to carry the money home.
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