In my experience thus far I’ve learned a lot of things, and have a lot more still to learn. One thing which has been coming up lately for me is the competitive advantage concept around business. Just about every lower level manager up to the business owner know all about competitive advantage.
For those who aren’t familiar it simply means this. What makes your company/service/product different from the rest of the market? What makes your business special? Why should a customer do business with you over another similar option?
For many businesses this is one of the focal points of everything they do. Often, the easy default is “our people are the difference” and you’ve seen many companies with a tag line saying essentially the same thing.
Some companies spend a lot of money trying to out-do the competition and beat the “other guys” for market share and more sales. Think about every car, soda, potato chip commercial you’ve ever seen…
Each business is different with different needs. I don’t pretend to speak for everyone, only for myself. The competitive advantage axiom is and has been conventional wisdom for as long as business schools have been around.
Here’s the thing about conventional wisdom. It’s always conventional, just not always wisdom.
For you entrepreneurs and small/medium business owners, spend your time on improving your company, product and service and less figuring out what makes you special.
The customer wants to know how you can help them, after all you are there to provide a service/product to the customer. Spend less time thinking about your story and more time thinking about the customer experience.
There are always people who are working harder than you, and there are always people not working as hard as you. Most of them are all trying to sell themselves by touting why their different, better than the next guy.
We can’t control what others do, yet we can control what we do. In my experience when I focus myself and my business on doing the best we can for our customers and our employees; good things happen.
Doing the right thing, (not the easy thing) in the small moments builds a practice for doing the right thing in the big moments. Practice being your best, putting your best foot forward in each interaction. You won’t always succeed, you will fail in this at times. And it’s ok. Walk it off and try it again, and again.
When people ask me what my competition is, I always say the same thing. “We really don’t have any”. We focus on servicing our customer with the highest expectations, actively learning and understanding what they really need; then delivering on that.
In this approach it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. While the “competition” does one thing better than me, they do something else worse. There is no perfect business, each has strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately customers will do business with who they feel more comfortable with.
Your company story and brand IS important. I say build the story around the customer first, and secondly how you were able to solution their problem. At the end of the day, your customers and they’re referral are your best advantage over the competition.