Is Your Competitive Advantage a Hit, Myth, or Somewhere in Between?

Is Your Competitive Advantage a Hit, Myth, or Somewhere in Between?

Ally Maughan | 2015-10-16 13:55:00

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A recent Vistage Open Day in Manchester proved thought provoking, invigorating and inspired some of us into action. 

Jaynie Smith opened her session by asking us to stand up when we heard one of our company’s competitive advantage statements, then listed the 10 most common responses given.

Almost universally, the top three were service, quality and reputation. Jaynie called the top 10 list “Blah Blah Blah”. She demonstrated this by sharing that when you Google “customer focused” there are over 77 million results; as we looked around, there was a dawning realisation of how ineffective most of us are currently at selling our relevant competitive advantages! 

Jaynie's challenge was then to help us understand how we tout our various strengths or differentiators. The good news is that Jaynie believes every company has a minimum of 50; the struggle is to come up with at least a few of them! We were asked “What is our silver bullet?” – The one statement that inspires confidence from our customers or clients?

The key guidelines were that the statement has to be objective not subjective, quantifiable, in the past tense or factual, and cannot be or is not currently claimed by the competition. My key lever “We don’t work on a retainer or tie in basis” transformed itself into “With no contractual tie in, our average client retention was over 27 months in 2014” – a much stronger statement I'm sure you'd agree.

The last light bulb moment for me was that prospects buy for different reasons than existing customers, which sounds obvious but is easy to miss when you are articulating your marketing messages.

As HR Directors, we are interested in the onward communication and implementation of any new learning. We asked some other delegates on the day to use poker chips on their table to vote on the following statement:

Is your leadership team going to get on board with this competitive advantage idea?

The 3 responses were:
  • Absolutely! All of my top team are fantastic at communicating what makes us brilliant.
  • Not sure. We are a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to communicating with our customers and team.
  • I doubt it. My top team is me and I get this stuff. The rest are... Well I don't always involve them!
For every token used to vote at the People Puzzles table we donated £1 to the Microloan Foundation, which helps women out of poverty in Africa by backing women to start small businesses.

108 votes were cast, with 33% voting “Absolutely”, 63% “Not Sure” and just 4% voting “I Doubt It’.

The feedback on the day was fantastic, the audience were buzzing, so why are only 1/3 of the CEO’s sure that their company would take action?

We believe it comes down to communication and leadership within an organisation, to inspire the team to understand, believe in them and then implement change. Something as fundamental and important as this could make a world of difference to your business growth.

Surely it’s worth the time and effort, to get the entire workforce on board and singing from the same hymn sheet? How many extra sales, increase in turnover and overall profit could come from getting this right?

If you would like some help with developing your top team, communicating your messages to the wider team, or turning ideas into action – please contact us at People Puzzles – we’d love to come and hear about your challenges and work with you to resolve them.

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