How do you build competitive advantage?

MarketingYour company needs to have a special anglea compelling value propositionto stand out. This is how you prove to prospective buyers that your solution is the right one.To be

How do you build competitive advantage?

Marketing

Your company needs to have a special anglea compelling value propositionto stand out. This is how you prove to prospective buyers that your solution is the right one.

To be clear, that doesnt just mean your prices. This is where your competitive edge comes in.

Kimberly Amadeo of The Balance defines the idea this way: A competitive advantage is what makes you better than the competition in your customers minds.

Think about the companies you purchase from regularly. Theres a reason you choose to keep going back, whether that competitive edge is something as simple as proximity or pricing, or something more complex, like your unspoken desire for the social prestige associated with the purchase.

Your company must achieve a similar competitive edge, whether you sell products, services, or some combination of the two. Here are 9 ways to get there.

1. Charge More

While many businesses think of slashing their prices to stand out, theres value in going the other direction. Consider the adage: You dont buy a Rolex to tell time.

Charging more is whats referred to as prestige pricing. Its used not just to boost margins but to increase a brands image and social capital by appealing to buyers who dont take cheaper products seriously.

The only caution here is that your products or services need to be able to justify the higher pricing you want to command. Dont be the next Fyre Festival, promising luxury and delivering a bare-bones experience.

2. Become an Online Influencer

Influencer is a nebulous term these days, but its function as a competitive edge is simple to understand. The more people who know and respect your company, the more customers youll acquire when these same people have a problem you can solve.

Take a look at the Hubspot Academy and certification program:

Hubspots certification programs are totally free, and when combined with the sites other helpful resources, cement its position as a leader in digital marketing services and support.


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3. Speak at Events in Your Industry

Speaking at conferences, meetings and other events have a similar impact on expanding your companys perceived authority.

Know Your Companys CEO Claire Lew shares both the monetary and intangible benefits of pursuing this type of competitive edge:

Of all the channels weve tried, Ive found speaking at events and conferences to have been the most interesting experiment for us. While speaking wasnt the biggest source of sales for us last year (we saw 47% of our sales come from inbound marketing, while 38% came from speaking opportunities)its where our greatest learnings have come for me as a CEO, and for our business.

4. Create Your Own Data

Businesses are often encouraged to use data points and statistics in the marketing content they create, as doing so gives the appearance of authority and credibility.

You can be the business they cite.

While youll want to adhere to proper surveying and sampling protocols, gathering market data can be done easily with tools like Googles Consumer Surveys and SurveyMonkey. Package your results in a neat format for distribution and your industry presence will grow.

5. Niche Down

Trying to be everything to everybody often has the opposite effect.

Take copywriter and business coach Ash Ambirge of The Middle Finger Project. Ambirges site isnt for everyoneas evidenced by the Snark Mode versus Censored toggle switch and blog posts with titles like, Self-Promotion Doesnt Have to Turn You Into a Self-Absorbed A-Hole.

The Middle Finger Project isnt for everyone. But for its target audience, the sites unique tone and niche appeal create an immediately compelling competitive advantage.

Another way to stand out in your space is to use new technology that nobody else is using.

Take live chat, for example. According to Econsultancy, 79% of customers say that they prefer live chat because of the immediacy it provides, yet live chat adoption has been uneven across industries.

Adding technologies like this to your digital repertoire gives customers a great reason to shop with you rather than your competitor.

7. Delight Your Customers

Everyone wants to work with a company dedicated to delighting them.

Take the example of real estate agent Naomi Hattaway, who gives kids a lets go look for houses goodie bag to keep them occupied while their parents are looking at homes.

Its a simple, inexpensive option, but its one thats sure to delight the families she works with, leading to more satisfied customers and more future referrals.

Make customer delight your competitive advantage with a similar approach by giving out (or mailing out, if your customers are remote) swag in recognition of major client milestonesthe way FreshBooks sent giant cookies to those celebrating 10 years of account usage.

When you surprise and delight your customers, it goes a really long way.

8. Invest in Deeper Customer Relationships

Advocacy marketing is a hot topic these days, yet so many advocacy programs stop at auto-generating referral codes to top spenders.

What if you took things one or two steps further? What if you invested time and energy into forming real relationships with your best customersmaybe by grabbing a beer together or renting a suite at a local sports stadium for a small gathering?

The business world is impersonal enough already. Real relationships stand out and create a powerful competitive edge.

9. Create a Killer Culture

As many people talk about Zappos work culture as they do its shoes. And yes, the company has hit some road bumps in its growth. But consistently investing in creating a killer culture has driven a number of business benefits.

Customers want to buy from companies that treat their workers well. At the same time, these companies can attract the best talent. This talentin turngoes on to provide great service for the companys customers.

Its a win-win cycle that leads to positive growth and the development of a compelling competitive edge.

Do you have another strategy to add to this list? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

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