As I’ve traveled around the country over the past several years working with companies, I’ve been amazed to find that many do not know, or cannot articulate, their competitive advantage. How can a company expect prospects and customers to give their time and attention if they do not understand, clearly and concisely, what this company can do for them that no other company can?
Companies that don’t understand their competitive advantage say things like “Our product is better quality” or “Our service is better.” Even if a company does have better quality or better service, it won’t convince customers just by saying so, because many of its competitors will be saying the exact same thing. You have to define quality. You have to show what outstanding service looks like and how your service differs from the competition.
How can you demonstrate your competitive advantage? Suppose someone walks up to you at a conference or social gathering, introduces herself, and asks you what you do for a living. Think about exactly what you would say. Did you have any trouble? Did you stumble? Do you know what sets you apart from your competitors?
If this is hard for you, you’re not alone. If you were to ask the average car dealer, computer store sales associate, or furniture manufacturer what they do for a living they’ll probably say “I sell cars, computers, or furniture.” But what does every other car, computer, or furniture dealer say? Exactly the same thing!
So what should the businessperson who understands his competitive advantage say? How about this for the car dealer: “My name is Mike from Competitive Motors. We’ve found that there is a lot of confusion in the automotive market today because there have been over 150 new models introduced in just the past three years. We’ve developed a computer book that profiles everything the buyer wants in a car and, in less than five minutes, identifies the models most likely to fit their needs.”
Crafting Your Statement
Your statement of competitive advantage has four components: your name, your company, a statement about a problem in your market, and how you and your product solve that problem.
Essentially, it is a 30-second statement explaining what differentiates your company in the marketplace.
Here’s another example. “My name is Marlene, and I’m the owner of a company called The Prescription for Doctors. Physicians are being pressured by insurers, employers, and patients to cut health care costs. Yet overhead costs are constantly rising. We provide a service that allows the physician to spend more time with patients and cut overhead at the same time, resulting in better quality care at a lower cost.”
Here’s one last example. “My name is Beth. It’s nice to meet you. The name of my firm is The Greatest Advertising Agency in the World. We’ve discovered that almost every successful product has either been the first entry in its category or it has been able to create a new category in the mind of its customers. What we do is help companies that are launching new products or having trouble with old ones ensure that their product is positioned to win.”
This approach really does set you apart from the competition and it makes you sound like a polished expert right from the start. Start brainstorming your competitive advantage statement today; it might take you awhile to determine exactly the phrasing and details that work best for you, so begin by jotting down some thoughts on what makes you and your company different. Dr. Tony Alessandra has authored 20 books translated into 50 foreign language editions, including his most recent book,
Switched On Selling, co-authored with Dr. Jerry Teplitz. Contact him at www.alessandra.com.