Grow A Strong Competitive Edge

by Theresa Lütge-Smith

Imaginet Guest Blogger

One way to make a greater footprint in your industry is to at all times know exactly what your competitors are up to while simultaneously keeping an eye on new technology solutions within your particular industry. Besides initiating creative marketing and pricing approaches that are in sync with market expectations, companies should focus on building their brand identity and value proposition to uphold a strong competitive edge. While consumers a couple decades ago understood a brand to be a company’s product or service, most consumers today perceive brand identity as the sum total of all aspects of a particular company, including corporate culture, graphic look, and industry reputation, quality of merchandise and service, and market positioning. Yet there are others who argue that branding is overrated and that customer turnover defeats the efforts to create long-term brand loyalty.

In all fairness, companies across the board continually face growing competition and must be ever vigilant to change in consumer behavior and technological advancement if they wish to remain in the loop. Consequently, a growing number of developed and developing countries have implemented strategies to compete in cutting-edge sectors like nanotechnology, robotics, clean energy, and life sciences; they recognize the advantage to shop globally to find the best resources in which to place their production and R&D activities in order to ensure a strategic advantage. Competition therefore encourages the adoption of innovation as companies evolve and new ideas flourish in the marketplace; it’s the decisive driver of expertise and progress. Similarly, businesses need to differentiate themselves to make better strategic decisions and develop their Unique Selling Proposition (USP). What makes your company stand out? Do you sell exclusive merchandise? Do you offer the lowest price? Does your customer service set you apart?

One way to differentiate your brand is to identify at least one problem that customers face that no one else is solving effectively. For instance, make purchasing straightforward, convenient and the process from inception to delivery flawless; establish an effective cost-control process that simultaneously offers customers an attractive discount but also assures you a sustainable profit margin; or manage a Pinterest-style landing page giving viewers access to articles promoting self-education on diverse topics.

In today’s world of competition and innovation economics we all know a “brand” by definition is a promise that it is honest, behaves transparently, demonstrates goodwill, and commits to real value. Customers today want to know not only what they are getting, but also why they should want or need it. They want to know how a product is different from the competition, and why they should trust your brand to bring about the desired results. Ideally, a company should provide prospects with the information they want and need at every step of the purchase cycle including customer reviews. Thanks to technology, consumers and the market place are highly informed and are communicating their brand opinions with enthusiasm. As a marketer the best way to win consumers is to build trust through the use of content marketing and social media.

To grow the core of your brand’s positioning it is necessary to create brand platforms that separate the company’s business units, industry participation and competition. Under each platform there should be a series of phrases that support and describe each group. For instance, if your brand platform supports “trust” consider including secondary elements such as safety, quality, customer service, ease of use, ease of access, and long-term brand equity. The rationale for creating brand platforms includes reaching varied target audiences; defining usage occasions; broadening resources; building the customer base; providing relevancy for management, affiliates and agencies; delivering strategic outline for integrated marketing efforts; and ensuring consistency to brand-positioning. You’ll get a higher multiple for your business if your product or service is truly differentiated in the market. But how do you acquire a truly unique product or service? What does your business do really well? What does it do that’s so great customers are prepared to pay for it? Also question what your business doesn’t do particularly well. Is there perhaps a product or service that is just an utter hassle, but for whatever reason you still hold on to it as part of your value proposition? Be brave enough to cut your losses and make a clean break of it. Instead concentrate your efforts around a unique specialization, even if it requires a lot of hard work to establish; persist in increasing your business brand.

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