Five-Key-Competitive-Strategies-to-Improve-Your-Position

Five Key Competitive Strategies to Improve Your Positionstring(56) "Five Key Competitive Strategies to Improve Your Position"

I recommend that entrepreneurs, business owners, and managers take time to analyze your company’s competitive status. This will help you understand and emphasize your Unique Selling Proposition.

There is no single formula for conducting a competitive analysis; it’s mostly just good business sense. You want to stay aware of what your competition is doing and measure how your business stacks up against it. Some questions to consider are:

  • Do you compete effectively in terms of the quality of your product or service?
  • Are your prices competitive? Do customers who compare costs come back to you?
  • Are you viewed as the vendor of choice? Why do people seek you out?
  • Are you growing, losing ground, or just holding on to your market share?

After this analysis, if you find that your competitive position needs some improvement, I invite you to continue reading.

Your competitive strategy consists of the approaches and initiatives you take to attract clients, withstand competitive pressures, and strengthen your market position. According to authors Arthur Thompson and A.J. Strickland in Strategic Management: Concepts and Cases, there are five competitive strategies to consider:

  • A low-cost leader strategy: striving to be the overall low-cost provider of a product or service that appeals to a broad range of customers (examples are Sam’s Club and Southwest Airlines).
  • A broad differentiation strategy: seeking to differentiate the company’s product offerings from rivals in ways that appeal to a broad range of buyers [examples are Nordstrom (known for customer service policies and personnel) and Whole Foods (emphasis on health foods and organic groceries)].
  • A best-cost provider strategy: giving customers more value for the money by emphasizing both low cost and upscale difference, the goal being to keep costs and prices lower than those of other providers of comparable quality and features (examples are the Honda and Toyota car companies with customer satisfaction ratings that rival those of much more expensive cars).
  • A focused, or market-niche, strategy based on lower cost: concentrating on a narrow buyer segment and outcompeting rivals on the basis of lower cost (The Gap clothing store is a good example).
  • A focused, or market-niche, strategy based on differentiation: offering niche members a product or service customized to their tastes and requirements [examples are Rolls-Royce (sells limited number of high-end, custom-built cars) and men’s big and tall shops (sell mainstream clothing styles to a limited market with specific requirements)].

Staying competitive implies being aware of trends and reacting to changes faster than your competitors. Understanding the driving forces in your industry – growth rates, shifts in buyer demographics, product and marketing innovations, the entry or exit of other competitors, changes in cost or efficiency – will help to make you a top competitor. 

I strongly encourage you to analyze your competitive status and then review the five competitive strategies to determine which will be most beneficial for your company and your business goals.

The-Willing-Conversation

The Willing Conversationstring(24) "The Willing Conversation"

Do you recall playing with magnets as a child? Depending on which way you turned the magnets, they were either attracted to or repelled by one another. As an adult, we may find ourselves feeling six years old again when we make a phone call to a referral who turns out to not be a referral at all. Similar to a magnet turned the wrong direction, you are not being embraced. Rather, you are being resisted. The referral you were given that should have been a “warm introduction” quickly turns into a cold call.

We all want good referrals – people who want to talk to us. We want to give and receive referrals that are willing conversations about the products and services we offer. To receive more effective referrals from the members of our business networking group, we must help them understand our business and our target market enough to identify a good referral for us.

Here are four tips to follow that can lead to more willing conversations.

  1. The Needs Assessment

It is our responsibility to be very clear and specific with our referral partners about what constitutes a good referral. This is a combination of an ideal prospect profile and the problems that we can solve for them.

This is an example of a clearly defined target market is for a corporate coach:
A small to medium-sized company with fewer than one hundred employees. They are closely held, often family-owned, and regional with locations in three or fewer states. They pride themselves on higher-than-average retention of their employees due to a reputation of treating them like family. They are in a competitive industry and are committed to gaining an advantage.

  1. Your Unique Selling Proposition

Do you have dozens or hundreds of competitors in your marketplace? You probably do. That means your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is very important because it allows you to stand out among your competition.

Your USP is a brief description of the purpose of your business, stated in the most concise and compelling way possible, in order to help others understand the unique value of what you do. Your USP tells people the type of client you work with and the benefits you provide to them.

What are you saying that makes you stand out? What do you do that your competition cannot touch? At the very least, figure out what you do better than your rivals and go beyond simply saying “good customer service”.

  1. Why Are You in Business?

What is your passion? Why do you go to work? Unfortunately, one of the most popular answers to this question is “To make money.” That’s the worst answer a business professional can ever give.

Why are you in your profession? How do you change lives? That’s what the referral partners in your business networking group need to know. Remember, passion is referable. You need to go deep and identify your “why” if you want to truly connect with people on a personal level.  

  1. What is Your Emotionally Charged Connection?

Your Emotionally Charged Connection (ECC) is a phrase, leading to a story, that your referral partners can recite when referring to you.

We all have an ECC. It was something that happened to you, often during childhood, that lays the groundwork for who you are as a person. It can be positive or it can be negative. Many people are not consciously aware of their Emotionally Charged Connection, yet it is the reason we get up in the morning and do the things we do every day.  It’s driven by the heart, not the checkbook or the head–there’s a big difference.
You can read about my ECC here.

The better you become at sharing the information in these tips with your business networking group, the more likely you are to feel like the magnet that attracts instead of the magnet that repels. Your referral partners will be able to give you good referrals that lead to the willing conversation.

What have you shared with your network that has helped you gain willing conversations with prospective customers?

What Is Your Unique Selling Proposition?string(40) "What Is Your Unique Selling Proposition?"

When someone asks you what you do, what are the first words out of your mouth?  If the words aren’t ready to roll off your tongue, then read on . . .

LightBulb

Image courtesy of artsamui at Free Digital Photos.net

When someone asks you what you do, make sure you’re ready with a response that is succinct but memorable. The attention span of the average adult is only 20 seconds; a long, drawn-out answer to the question isn’t going to work.

Focus on creating a unique selling proposition (USP)–a mini commercial that you can readily use while networking. I think of this as a personal answer to the age-old “Whattaya do?” question, which we’ve all been asked about a million and a half times.

Here’s an example. When someone asks what you do, don’t reply with a bland, general statement such as “I’m a consultant.” Half the world could say that, and it doesn’t tell anybody anything. Instead, you could say, “I work with small to medium-size businesses to help them attract more clients than they could possibly handle.”  This is short, powerful and informative.

A USP is obviously something you’ll have to tailor to your specific business, but can you see how it packs more punch than just telling people you’re a consultant? Whichever 12 or 20 words you choose, make sure your answer is quick and informative without sounding rehearsed or contrived.

So, make it your goal this week to come with a USP. Not only will this make you much more effective at networking events and functions, being prepared in this way will also make you more comfortable with introducing yourself to new people because you’ll have the confidence of knowing exactly what to say.

Once you’ve used your new USP a handful of times, come back and leave a comment letting me know what kind of response you got from people and how it worked out for you overall. As always, I’d love to hear from you!

What Are the First Words Out of Your Mouth?string(43) "What Are the First Words Out of Your Mouth?"

When someone asks you what you do, what are the first words out of your mouth?  If the words aren’t ready to roll off your tongue, then read on . . .

When someone asks you what you do, make sure you’re ready with a response that is succinct but memorable. The attention span of the average adult is only 20 seconds; a long, drawn-out answer to the question isn’t going to work.

Focus on creating a unique selling proposition (USP)–a mini commercial that you can readily use while networking. I think of this as a personal answer to the age-old “Whattaya do?” question, which we’ve all been asked about a million and a half times.

Here’s an example. When someone asks what you do, don’t reply with a bland, general statement such as “I’m a consultant.” Half the world could say that, and it doesn’t tell anybody anything. Instead, you could say, “I work with small to medium-size businesses to help them attract more clients than they could possibly handle.”  This is short, powerful and informative.

A USP is obviously something you’ll have to tailor to your specific business, but can you see how it packs more punch than just telling people you’re a consultant? Whichever 12 or 20 words you choose, make sure your answer is quick and informative without sounding rehearsed or contrived.

So, make it your goal this week to come with a USP. Not only will this make you much more effective at networking events and functions, being prepared in this way will also make you more comfortable with introducing yourself to new people because you’ll have the confidence of knowing exactly what to say.

Once you’ve used your new USP a handful of times, come back and leave a comment letting me know what kind of response you got from people and how it worked out for you overall. As always, I’d love to hear from you!