1.  Who is your competition?

That’s neither a rhetorical or “dumb” question. Your competition is both physical and mental. You could probably fill a page with a list of companies you consider to be competitors, and perhaps you should. However, the only competition you have to be concerned with is the competition that exists in the minds of your prospects. Who else are they considering buying this product or service from? Maybe your competition is invisible. Maybe you’re the only source being considered. You still have competition—complacency. Maybe they’re contemplating doing it themselves, or not doing anything. How would that change your marketing or sales message? Your proposal?

2. What does your competition do better than you?

The most difficult (read: expensive) thing to do on this planet is change someone’s mind. So, if your competitor is known for X and does it better, faster, cheaper or whatever than you do, even though you want to pound your chest and proclaim, “Hey! We do X, too, just as good, fast and affordable as they do.” Don’t. Find your own claim to fame that you can own. (Hint:  the fact that you’ve been doing it longer may or may not translate to an advantage in the minds of your prospects. It could just mean you’ve got older equipment or a dated approach.)

3. How can you leverage your competition’s strengths?

Yes, their strengths. If they’re known for the biggest and the best, perhaps you counter by being hands-on, hassle free. Two great examples come to mind: a hospital’s obstetrics campaign and Scope mouthwash. The hospital’s competitor was the Big Behemoth (major, leading medical center). The hospital’s ad showed a picture of a small bird’s nest with a single egg nestled in the middle, and next to it an open egg carton full of eggs. The caption simply said, “Us” under the nest and “Them” under the carton. Wow.

Scope mouthwash’s biggest competitor was Listerine, and Listerine was touting “Kills Germs.” Scope countered with “Medicine Breath.”

Both advertisers brought their benefits to life by building their message around what consumers already knew and thought about the competition, their strengths.

4. What can you do that your competition is not doing?

Better yet, what can you do that your competition is unwilling to do? Your answer will surely set you apart in a powerful way—one that would be difficult to copy or counter.

Comments? Examples?

2 Responses to “Q&A for a Competitive Advantage”

  1. Jodie Lapchick

    Gotta disagree with you on limiting your competition. Everything is your competition. You compete with the whole wide world every day for your customer’s attention. So you just better not be blah blah blah-ing.

  2. Terri Langhans

    Ah, good point. The first part of marketing is getting the prospect’s attention, and in that case everyone, including what’s cooking for dinner, is competition. Once you’ve got the prospect’s attention, that’s when I love to think about who or what else she’s thinking about, and what can I do that the competition isn’t doing, or better yet, isn’t willing to do. Thanks for your comment Jodie.


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