How do I identify my competitive advantage?
How do I go about identifying my competitive advantage? Socrates said that acknowledgement of our own ignorance is the first step towards true knowledge, and Coleridge said we cannot make another comprehend our knowledge until we first comprehend his ignorance. How does this play into identifying my competitive advantage?
Honestly, I'd start with a basic SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats) analysis of both your business and all of your competition. It can be a long exercise, but it can definitely help you identify areas in which you can call out your differentiation, look to expand, a world of options!
Here's one place to start: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_05.htm
For info on SWOT analysis in general, check out Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SWOT_analysis
Only once you have a full understanding of how your competition sits in the marketplace can you identify areas in which you can stand out with a competitive advantage.
I agree with the comment that this should be something that is designed into your business rather than discovered. However, if that has not been done you still need to "figure out" what your competitive advantage is.
Identifying what this advantage is is something you will need some help with. The reality is that you are biased and may not see how your business fits into the marketplace as well as would an independent third party.
There are many processes which that person could use, but I would suggest the best may be to perform a simple SWOT analysis. Once this is completed your competitive advantage should be readily apparent.
Personally, I think that a competitive advantage, or USP, should be engineered from day one, as opposed to discovered.
Instead of comparing yourself or your business to competitors and trying to ascertain how you're different, do it the other way around by looking at your competitors and intentionally deciding how you want to be different and then work that difference into your products/services.
Ask customers who recently signed with you: What made you stand out, and what are their expectations of your company moving forward. While most people believe that they understand their competitive advantage...very few truly do. Plus, what may have been your competitive edge five years ago; probably isn't your competitive advantage today. This should be something that you are constantly asking and adjusting.
Some simple market/ customer research may help to uncover your advantage vs. your competitors. While you can do this easily (and often for free) online with your current customers/ clients, there is significant value in having an un-biased third party conduct and help you to gain insight from any research findings. Understanding your marketplace is key for continuing to grow and position your business in the future.
Interesting question, and unlike some of the other replies where it comes during the business plan (or engineered from day 1), I think this is a question you need to continue to ask you/ your business on a regular basis.
When we set up our businesses, we believe we are the best/cheapest/most technically competent company/person to do this (we wouldn't set it up if we didn't), which is great, although, its our opinion, and our perception of competitive advantage could be swayed by our features.
I get businesses to look at some simple, but enlightening questions (they aren't always quick answers):
> Why would someone/a business buy from me?
The next question, starts to ween out some of the competitive information
eg. - So what if we are the first to do x.
- So what if we have a tool that makes x go faster
A SWOT analysis will tell you what your suggested competition is doing, you can then compare your Strengths and Weaknesses into a comparison table with the competition Strengths & Weaknesses.
The SWOT will draw out the "Features" of the FAB's information, its down to you, to then identify the Advantage, and the BENEFIT. and thus give you the basis of the Competitive Advantage.
There are lots of templates on the internet, but the key to understanding competitive advantage, is to also understand what a potential client NEED's.
Your advantage to a company that isnt interested in what colour it is, may also be a weakness to the client.
Good luck, and hope my thoughts help
How is this "Routing from ignorance to knowledge"
My expertise is assessing the profile of an individuals emotional intelligence and thinking style and finding ways to increase their efficency and happiness.
Always good to start with an evaluation of your strategies and tactics...how they align with each other and with client/customer needs...this simple exercise tells a lot...
Much has to do with what your competitors are offering and how you go over and beyond in terms of product performance, customer service, cost and value.
Define what makes your services distinct. Why should people choose you? What are you offering them in value and benefit that they can't find elsewhere. What else can you provide your clients that will keep them loyal to you?
Some times this apeare in the image of sercastis beaviour from the compiteter also you can observe it in compititer change plans for ex. Pricing adjustments or rushing up nrw mershndizing.
First of all you should know your strength and weakness. and try to find out how best you can get you weakness fulfilled and use your strength to compensate that weakness. Knowing, i.e. exploring yourself is very important.
Then you should explore a market where you can utilize your strength by exploring other's weakness.
Eliminate everything you can't outperform. If that is price, warranty, guarantee, etc just hope and pray that whatever is left on the list is worth mentioning or you'll need to get creative fast.
My experience has been that of delivering dramatic and pragmatic improvements in productivity, competitive advantage, bottom-line profitability and savings, and, providing “Analytics Visualization” - building metrics dashboards to drive performance, translating strategic objectives into operational goals / focus, tying KPIs to outcomes and economic value, while using Systems for Organizational Management, providing road map for navigating complexities while targeting results - even in heavily regulated environments.
In my experience, the first step in identifying your competitive advantage in most situations can be summed up in 3 words: Do Your Homework. Look at all of your potential client's platforms and profiles. When possible, talk to their customers and their vendors about their experiences with your prospective client. These steps should give you some specific ways you can add value to your soon-to-be client's mission, goals and objectives. Create a compelling story in concise elevator speech format and voila! competitive advantage identified.
It's funny because a competitive edge is not really an edge, but an intersection of what you do perfectly with what your market needs. Is it your expertise, proprietary system, pricing structure? What do you do that no one else can say they can do as it relates to solving a client's problem? What product or service do you offer that no one else can say they offer as it relates to solving a client's problem? I work with clients all the time on their branding and positioning and it's a 2-part process. The first is knowing about you. The second is understanding what your customer needs. Find someone who can help you with this because your positioning is a critical business sweetspot, and it makes no sense to invest in marketing without knowing it. To your SWEET success!
A-A/C Duct Cleaning
B-Kitchen Duct Cleaning
C-Sawage & DrainLine.
D-Coils & Cooling Towers Cleaning.
E-Water Tank & all Kind of Tanks Cleaning.
Take time to work on the business rather than simply in the business