Build your business plan to raise the competitive bar by being better. Be much better and not just different from your competitors. Being better can help push your revenues and profits more. It will create a distinguishing competitive edge. When your product or service is much better than your competitors you’re giving your customers a better reason to buy from you instead of buying from the competition. Better does not have to me lower price or more features. Better can simply mean your customer believes your product is better. Here are three fast and easy ways to boost your value model and let your market know how and why you are better than the rest.
Know the competition
It is easier to be better when you know your competitor’s product, as well as you know your own product. You can count on your competitor falling short in something because no one can do everything perfectly all of the time. Find out how they might fall short in any of the following areas and do it better.
• Solution completeness
• Financial strength
• Response capability
• Resource availability
No company can sell with equal strength to all target markets. Consider these two extreme examples. A company which manufactures winter sports equipment, like skies and snowboards, would have a difficult time competing in southern Florida. A company selling expensive, haute fashion cosmetics for women might find it difficult to market their cosmetics in a fixed, moderate income, retirement community. Find the markets where the competition is weakest and create your own the niche in those markets.
What you do better
It’s the things you do better which set you apart from your competition. The way you go the extra mile to satisfy your customers can also differentiate you.
• Baltimore Washington International Airport uses their “park-n-ride” service to make them different. When you enter their lot, an attendant greets you and shows you the best row to park your car so you don’t have to search for an open space. The shuttle meets you at your parked car so there’s no waiting at a shelter. Then the bus driver helps you with your luggage, and if it’s raining meets you with an umbrella. While on the bus, the friendly driver actually talks to you, and on your way back the shuttle takes you directly to your car, with a complimentary bottle of water.
• A customer’s mother had recently had some medical treatment that left her feet numb and sensitive to pressure – and also rendering most of her shoes totally useless. She ordered her mother six pairs of shoes from Zappos, hoping that at least one of them would work. After receiving the shoes, her mother called Zappos to get instructions on how to return the shoes that didn’t work, explaining why she was returning so many shoes. Two days later, she received a large bouquet of flowers from Zappos, wishing her well and hoping that she recovered from her treatments soon. Two days later, the customer, her mother and her sister were all upgraded to “Zappos VIP Members,” which gave them all free expedited shipping on all orders.
Another way you might differentiate yourself is when you are the only one doing something in your niche or geographic market.
Your secret sauce
You can create your own differentiation, just like the McDonald’s did with their ‘secret sauce’.
The ingredients for the sauce, mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish and yellow mustard whisked together with vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika has not been very secret. Search the internet for ‘McDonald’s secret sauce’ and you’ll find plenty of recipes. Just because McDonald’s said the sauce was secret, doesn’t mean it is but the secret sauce helps to differentiate the Big Mac from the Burger King’s Whopper. Inventing your own ‘secret sauce’ is a sure fire way to differentiate yourself from your competitors. ‘Unique process’ or ‘Exclusive methods’ might be other names you might use for your ‘secret sauce’.
Build your business plan so your market will know why your business is better. The plan can be a fast, inexpensive short cut to help push revenues and profits. Letting your market know how and why you’re better will give your customers a better reason to buy from you instead of the competition.
Find their weakness. Be better. Plan to take the market for yourself.