I once attended a seminar which taught marketers they can literally differentiate ‘any’ product/service or brand. It removed my skepticism about developing competitive advantages forever. As a result I now know there are literally endless ways to create competitive advantages. It’s also necessary to choose ‘sustainable’ advantages since there’s no point creating a significant competitive difference, if it can be immediately copied.
Every business plan we write for clients at BizPlanPlus needs to incorporate a very intentional Unique Selling Proposition (USP) section of the plan, supported by thorough competitor research and a good deal of imaginative thinking about the most effective differentiators.
Here are a few examples of ways to create sustainable differentiators:
-Extend or enhance your product or service range:
Developing more products or services to provide more options for your customers increases the opportunity to make a better match with customer needs.
-Deliver service beyond customer expectations:
Because service is intangible, extending the number and quality of services is often an unseen and very difficult to copy.
-Use premium pricing (with demonstrable new high quality and unique products).
Premium pricing can seem counter-intuitive in competitive situations and is a much better option (provided it can be supported by actual quality), than opting for competitive price-cutting, which is often a form of ‘lazy marketing’.
-Intensity of marketing through simultaneous and ongoing channels:
Your targeted customer segments don’t all see your promotional efforts in the same place, using the same promotional medium. Judiciously selecting multiple promotional channels will differentiate you from competitors who focus their marketing communications budgets in fewer and less creative channels.
-Reassess the true needs of the customer and ‘own’ a new promotional message to meet them more clearly:
Listening closely to customers, by whatever means possible, to craft a unique marketing stance/message that rings true to your audience. Once you stake ownership by communicating your unique message, it is ‘owned’ by your company and not repeatable by competitors.
-Discover new distribution channels:
Although very commonplace now, e-commerce was an example of a new distribution channel that was very revolutionary and not easily repeated when initially introduced.
-Provide new sales incentives:
Introducing a variable compensation scheme for sales staff or distributors may be an unseen incentive that provides a leg-up on the competition.
Each of these suggestions, along with the multitude of ideas not represented here, require some creative marketing diligence in the planning and then the execution. But it’s so much better to be proactive than simply reacting to your competitors by shooting from the hip.