Creating A Competitive Advantage For Your Business
“When it rains, it pours” is a popular phrase in our lexicon, but do you know where it comes from? It actually comes from a very popular marketing campaign for Morton Salt. If you want to read the whole story click on this link; but the short version is that in 1911 salt would clump together in areas with high humidity or when it rained. Morton Salt company recognized this issue and created a new formula that allowed their salt to pour when it rains. This led to the popular phrase and their logo of a girl walking in the rain holding an umbrella with the salt pouring out behind her.
We love this story because it is exactly what small businesses need to do but don’t know how. That is, to find a way to set their business apart from the competition. We often see business owners struggle with how to differentiate their business. There are two key insights you need to remember:
1. The element that sets your business apart must be something that your customers care about. The Morton Salt story is a great example of a company listening to the needs and problems of their clients. By understanding that their customers were frustrated by having to chisel their salt when it clumped, they found an opportunity to better their product in a way that their clients actually cared about.
Insight: We challenge you to take this example and discover what frustrations your customers have that could help you set yourself apart from competition. Ways to uncover frustrations include: ask your customers in surveys or even at the point of sale, read your reviews and those of your competitors and ask your employees for feedback. This gives you a great starting point for understanding what is important to your customers.
2. The element should also be unique. If your competitors can say the same thing, it’s hard to differentiate yourself. Now that doesn’t mean others won’t try to copy what you’re doing. They most likely will. It’s the nature of business. However, when you set your business apart you will have pricing authority. When you have pricing authority you can set prices higher and spend more on marketing allowing your business to take the number one spot. And even as your competition makes changes to copy what you’re doing, you’re able to stay ahead.
Insight: Take the list you made above and focus on those elements that are unique. If you solve the issue, how easy would it be for your competitors to copy it? As discussed, competitors will try to copy what you do, just like they copied Morton. However, you’re looking for something that can give you that competitive advantage and create a marketing campaign to retain that advantage.
Another important note is that the element cannot be service. That’s hard for many business owners to accept because they take pride in their service, but service is something that all your competitors will claim as well, making it near impossible to be unique. And it’s something that your prospects can’t experience until after they’ve bought, which means it’s not what you want to build your marketing around. In reality, great service is an expectation and not something that sets you apart.
If you’re ready to discover your competitive advantage, it’s time to talk to our business coaches who can help you navigate this process.