Why should your customer buy from you rather than your competitor? The answer to that question is your “competitive advantage”. The product specs, the pricing options, the user friendly interfaces, the service quality, the whatever-it-is that convinces folks to buy from you when they’re in the market for what you’ve got. You might be shocked, however, to know just how many people think that their competitive advantage is simply, “I have the better offering”. Logically, this can’t be true for as many people that claim it. And even for those lucky few who actually are selling a demonstrably better product or service, it still isn’t enough to just say that their product is better. You need to narrow down your competitive advantage. Why?
Because anyone can just say that they’re better, and very few people are able to effectively communicate to their customers just how this is true. Do you beat your competitors out on price, follow-up, brand recognition, technical support, color options? As you start to compare your offering next to everything else in the market, you will soon notice that not all competitive advantages are created equal. It isn’t enough just to be better, you have to actually be better in a way that your customers care about.
A prime example is the luxury brand. People in the market for a luxury car don’t choose to buy a Lexus over a Mercedes because they saw their local dealership’s advertisement in the weekly paper offering a discount. At that level, price isn’t an important differentiator. A luxury car buyer may well end up spending more in order to get the aesthetics of the car they want, or the premium add-on options, or the more eco-friendly model. Getting a better deal is low on that customer’s list of priorities, so luxury car brands aren’t marketed using price as a differentiator. You may see a Lexus commercial emphasizing performance, exclusivity, lifestyle enhancements, comfort, and the social benefits of being a Lexus owner, but you probably won’t see much screen time spent discussing rebates or holiday tie-in sales events or credit approval.
It’s not just about price, either. People buying audio hookup cables don’t care at all about aesthetics or brand recognition over product specs, but the personal earbuds and headphones market absolutely do. Marketers and merchandisers of children’s toys choose to package products in very bright colors with recognizable characters and at the eye level of young children, because those are things that kids care about when they’re choosing toys. Marketers of infant and toddler toys choose to package their products with pictures of happy, engaged babies while listing the educational and developmental benefits of their toys, because that’s what parent’s care about.
If you’ve been marketing your offering as though it were just obviously better all around than your competitors’, you need to narrow down your competitive advantage. The more focused and specific you can make your differentiators, the better. If you’re competing on price, then choose to emphasize either low initial startup costs or low maintenance costs over time. If you’re trying to gain the market advantage based on improved product functionality, choose one feature that your audience really cares about, and base your selling points around that feature. It’s not important only to know what your competitive advantage is, but to narrow it down to make it concrete and specific for your customer.