The reading level for this article is Novice
It’s always difficult to see the frame when you’re part of the picture. However, it’s vital that entrepreneurs make the effort to determine and clearly understand their technical and marketing strengths relative to their competitors — and then to take best advantage of those strengths to differentiate themselves from those competitors.
Customers’ buying decisions are based upon their perception of the best value available — from your company or your competitors.
Note that “best value” does not necessarily mean lowest cost. Value is composed of service, quality and price. Only after doing everything possible to deliver exceptional service and quality, should entrepreneurs even think of competing on price.
Note also that it’s “perceived” value that counts. Perception is how others view you. You have a great deal of control over that — not only by what and how you deliver — but also by how you present yourself — in person, in your letters, in your literature, in your advertising.
If you clearly understand your technical and marketing strengths, you can deliver a consistent and powerful message. If you don’t, you can’t. Recognize that nobody will know why they should buy from you until you tell them. However, if you tell them you’re great at “everything”, that’s simply hype, and nobody will believe you.
If your company is small and your competitors are large, you should generally engage in “guerilla marketing” against their “conventional marketing”. Try to promote your small company’s speed and mobility against their superior resources.
Pit your “flexibility” against their “standard practices”, your “privacy” against their “public disclosures”, your synergistic “strategic alliances” against their inclination to “go it alone”, your “buy” (read: outside subcontracting) against their “make” (read: internal production), your “cherry picking” of high margin business to their tendency to “do it all”.
For example, a large competitor with a labor-intensive assembly operation (with growing fringe benefit costs and escalating labor rates) can be a wonderful target for a small innovative company (with little investment in production facilities or sales channels) that can take advantage of short product life cycles to lead the market.
To understand your strategic technical and marketing strengths, analyze what your customers want to buy compared to what your competitors can’t readily deliver. And then structure your organization, your operations — and your “image” — around those strengths.