A competitive advantage is hard enough to create; it’s even more difficult to keep.
It’s inevitable. Once you carve out your uniqueness in the market, the “competitive hordes” see it and copy what they like.
Everyone loves benchmarking the best, so once you step out and lead the pack, expect others to dissect what you’ve done and pick out their favourite morsel.
There is no preventing this. It’s one of the few things in business that CAN be predicted with certainty.
Once you’re “done” your work, it’s not over. You have to keep your feet moving.
You need to put in motion actions that will sustain your market position – these 7 tactics will help:
1. Monitor the execution of your strategy monthly. Be obsessed with your performance. Dig into the revenue numbers. If you fall short, determine EXACTLY why. And then take immediate action to resolve (and monitor that).
2. Assess the value you provide. Is your value proposition still relevant? Are you continuing to address a real compelling need your target customer group has expressed?
Many companies have died by becoming complacent and assuming they continue to be relevant. They see margins decline and see it as a cost problem. It rarely is. It’s a revenue problem. They slash and burn their organization but spend no time assessing relevance. They often cut out service and marketing capabilities that are sorely needed to rebound.
3. Create a strong social media presence to monitor what people are saying. Act immediately on any concerns raised over your performance.
4. Test your competitive claim with both customers and employees. Successful organizations have a clear statement of how they are different than their competitors. They answer the question “Why should I buy from YOU and not your competition?” in a compelling way.
Your positioning statement must meet the test of “Is it relevant?” (does it continue to address the high priority needs of the target group) and “Is it true?” (do you actually do what you claim?).
5. Stay close to your main competitors. Their actions in the market are useful in assessing if there are actions you need to take to sustain your momentum. Look for any activity they have had with your customers.
6. Continue to bear down on delivering memorable experiences for your customers. Competitive advantage is more about how people FEEL about you than the cleverness of your product.
“Emotional” experiences produce unforgettable memories which translate into your customers never wanting the exit door to find someone better.
7. Review your marketing plans and programs to ensure you are moving inexorably to “ME” and away from flogging to the masses. A focus on the individual drives you to create unique solutions for them personally. Catering to the masses dilutes your customer attention rate and your brand; heroes for people earns the right to do business with them for a long time.
Keep the move to “ME” going!
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