Your strategic advantage: How do you get your company to stand out?

My team had a planning session on our strategy for 2015. Our major challenge was defining what our company does better than anyone else. There were two core issues:

  • Marketing encompasses such a wide array of initiatives;
    if we list them all, then it becomes too overwhelming and confusing.
  • Even when we choose a few specialties,
    we still sound like a lot of other marketers.

Frankly, I think most companies are in similar situations. How do you really get your company to stand out? We suggest using a simple technique, which helps objectify characteristics of organizations in your space. Then you can easily compare and contrast your company with its main competitors to help determine how you can best differentiate yourself. Here’s how it works:

  1. List your top 3 competitors
    1. List each competitor’s top 3 strengths
      Note that if they have great pricing, then their strength is “pricing”
    2. List each competitor’s top 3 weaknesses
    3. Note if they have terrible customer service, then their weakness is “customer service”
  2. Prepare a table with all the information
    1. Put the strengths and weaknesses in the rows
    2. Put your company’s name and the names of your 3 competitors in the columns
  3. Now rank each company, including yours,
    with a High, Medium, or Low for each of the strengths and weaknesses.
  4. Observe and react to the patterns.
    1. You may notice that everyone is doing the same thing, like having lots of features and functionality. So you may need to emphasize something else, like being simple and easy to use.
    2. You may notice that everyone is average. So you need to choose something in which you excel and in which you easily can make some money.
    3. You may notice that one company is really bad at something, and you may want to make that your strength.
    4. You may notice that there are some gaps that no one is filling. You may want to differentiate yourself by providing one of these offerings, but make sure you select something that is somewhat defensible or sustainable.

Obviously, once you determine your best differentiator, then you’ll need to go about communicating and promoting that – topics for a few future blogs. In the meantime, though, if you decide to use this compare and contrast technique, we’d love to hear about what you chose and how it worked out. In fact, if you send your story to us, we’ll write a case study for you!

By the way, after our company performed this exercise, the team decided to provide lower cost services for social media content and engagement. You’ll probably see a case study on that one too!

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