What’s your recipe for a Competitive Advantage?

  photo by TheBusyBrain

It can be really tough to explain to people why they should spend their hard earned money with you rather than the competition.

As an example, let’s pretend that you have a catering company…and that your target market is the business crowd – larger groups that like a variety of hot and cold lunch opportunities, they need a cost effective, easy to use, reliable service.

How would you present yourself from a marketing perspective?

To make this a little more real, I thought I’d do a quick search on the term Kansas City Catering to see what was out there and how people were presenting themselves.

I’m primarily looking at web sites, but there are lots of ways to get your marketing message out there (direct mail, radio, TV, networking, social media, etc.).  The medium isn’t as important as the message – so let’s get back to the question:

“Why would I buy your catering over your competitors?”

I could tell you that I’ve been around for a long time and work with large groups:

“…proudly served the Kansas City Area corporate market for 25 years, working with groups of 10 to 6000 guests.”

I could tell you that I’ve got great tasting food:

“…we believe that presentation is meaningless unless there’s delicious food to back it up!”

I could tell you that I’m easy to work with and affordable:

“…specialized in stress-free catering at affordable prices, using only the highest quality ingredients.”

Or I could get really specific and tell you what I’m committing to:

“…handle your 100 hot meals in 3 hours if you call by 8:30am!”

Who do you choose?

What you can’t really tell from the above snippets is that many of the choices have been around for a long time…all of them have delicious food that tastes really great and most of them tell you they’re easy to work with.

When it comes to a competitive advantage…a tangible reason to make a choice, almost all of them seem to blend together. 

  • I don’t actually care how long you’ve been around…can you solve my problem? 
  • I assume that the food is pretty good or you wouldn’t still be around (and I’ll check for user comments or people I know – if it’s bad, I’ll know it).
  • That’s great that you tell me your easy to work with – but so does everyone else and no offense, but why should I believe you?
  • I might be swayed by some personality and really interesting menu items…but if I have to search for it, it loses it’s power.  Highlight it front and center (on the front page) if that’s your ‘special sauce’.

Of the catering companies I found (granted with a quick search), Grandma’s Office Catering does a great job of clarifying exactly what they can do for me when they promise they can deliver for up to 100 meals with 3 hours notice! 

Just as importantly, they make that promise front and center in all of their advertising – they’ve committed to their competitive advantage and their promise…if you happen to need quick turnaround, or just someone you can count on, you’re likely to go with Grandma.  (They also have good food and do a nice job of making their customers happy…but I assume other companies do that as well).

What’s your recipe for a competitive advantage?  Is there a promise you can make that addresses your target audiences big concerns?  Can you make a guarantee that sets the bar so high your competition can’t match it (or don’t want to)?

Food for thought…I’d love to hear your nuggets of wisdom – leave me a comment below and let me know what you think!

Shawn Kinkade   Kansas City Business Coach