Business owners must wear many hats, and marketing isn’t always a strength. Plus, small or medium-sized businesses often don’t have marketing on staff, so there is a general lack of expertise in how to best promote and sell their product. In this article, I’ll discuss one of the most important things for a business to focus on when marketing their product or service: their competitive advantage.
Do you know your competitive advantage?
Unfortunately, many businesses take marketing only to the level of promoting what makes their product or service great. This isn’t surprising or unusual, because business owners and managers spend all day immersed in their business, so it is most natural to share how awesome it is. This is important, of course, but a product pitch like this is missing two key elements:
- How your product or service helps your customers.
- How your product or service is unique from other offerings available on the market.
When you promote your product or service in a way that specifically appeals to customers’ needs, and also shows why your offering is superior to competitors, then your marketing will be most effective.
How do you find your competitive advantage?
If you’re not quite sure what sets you apart from the competition, here’s a great exercise to figure out what your advantage is.
- Start with your target audience, your clients. What do they spend their days doing? What do they care about? What are their pains, their challenges? Read full blog for Step 1 here.
- How does a product or service like yours help alleviate those pains and challenges? In other words, how does a product or service like yours benefit this target customer? List as many as possible. (Hopefully this is an exercise you’ve already done as part of your market research in developing your product or service.) Read full blog for Step 2 here.
- Now – do all your competitors also solve the same challenges as you do in #2? Do you all do it the same way, or do you do something different?
- Identify the strongest benefits of your product/service that you have but competitors don’t, or that you do much better than competitors (higher quality, faster, cheaper, etc.). Remember, these have to be things your customers really care about. These are your competitive advantages! Read full blog for Steps 3 and 4 here.
Here’s an example. I’ve worked with several insurance agencies, and most of the agencies in the industry like to tout their many years in business and their outstanding customer service. Now, each of them think that this differentiates them, but really, if everyone is saying the same thing, this is not a competitive advantage. Instead, the most successful insurance agencies look for unique ways to differentiate from their competitors, such as offering sophisticated technology solutions to clients that complement their insurance policies.
If you're looking for more guidance on this topic, check out this full-length guide on identifying your competitive advantage.