Define your competitive advantage

Key points in this article

  • Identify what’s different about your business
  • A competitive advantage boosts brand awareness
  • Keep thinking of ways to hone your uniqueness

What is a competitive advantage?

A competitive advantage is what you do better than anyone else, and is limited only by your imagination and innovative thinking. Few businesses can succeed long term without a vivid point of difference from competitors.

You need compelling reasons for people to choose you rather than competitors – especially if your products are similar to others.

Identifying your competitive advantage

A good way to start is by brainstorming the differences that distinguish your business with your staff and customers. The reasons they buy from you could produce some surprises – including advantages that you may not have considered.

Do any of the following apply to you?

  • your product or service is clearly superior or better value for money
  • it’s unique, or new to the market
  • you’ve identified a niche market that others have ignored
  • you stock products or offer services that others don’t
  • you’ve patented your product, or registered your design so it can’t be copied
  • you offer a better guarantee or warranty than the industry standard
  • you promote through channels that competitors don’t yet use, such as social media.

If you were a customer of your own business, what would stand out about it to you?

Projecting your advantage

Once you’ve identified your competitive advantage, you can start talking about it externally. If it really is distinctive and authentic, people will take notice and start forming an opinion of you that’s backed up by the experiences they have with you.

No matter how compelling your advantage, it’s up to you to back up your words with actions. You can’t expect customers to guess your advantage.

Strengthening your marketing
When you develop a recognisable brand that captures your point of difference it can:

  • save time and money in developing and executing your marketing tactics
  • provide more effective communications through consistent, cohesive and differentiated messages
  • build market awareness and higher brand recognition.

Remember, actions speak louder than words so follow through on the claims you make to build your reputation. 

Once defined, a clear competitive advantage will boost brand awareness and strengthen your marketing

Protecting your advantage

The more successful your business, the more competitors you’re likely to face. This makes it important to protect what can be protected:

  • visit the IP Australia website or speak to an IP expert to see what you can protect
  • register your visual identity as a trade mark so competitors can’t copy it
  • assert your rights (such as copyright) on all promotional material to deter imitators.

Schedule regular reviews

Customer satisfaction surveys will give you feedback on why your customers continue to choose your business, and what they see as your key points of difference.

Stay in front by evolving new competitive advantages or finding new ways to talk about existing ones. Book time to ask:

  • are your top competitive advantages still working?
  • has your business model changed? Can you think of any new competitive advantages?
  • do you need to use new or different promotional channels?
  • can sales staff communicate your competitive advantage quickly and clearly?
  • what new examples of your competitive advantage can you talk about?

As your business evolves so will your competitive advantage, so avoid resting on your laurels. Keep thinking of ways to hone your uniqueness

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