Know Your Competition and How to Differentiate

Everybody knows that Whole Foods, even though it is a grocery store, caters to consumers who are seeking healthier, organic options. Or that The Body Shop, while it’s a cosmetics company, heralds that their products have not been tested on animals.

It’s extremely unlikely that you run your business in a market with no competition whatsoever. Virtually every business is competing with some alternative. Understanding the competitive landscape, and in particular, how you can differentiate your product or service, is a critical consideration. This blog post will review the steps you need to undertake in order to understand your competitors and how to then translate that insight into a differentiating advantage.

Understand pain in the market

The first step in differentiating your product or service from the competition is to really understand the pain that you are addressing. Whole Foods understood that people wanted better choice. The Body Shop tapped into the ethical principals of cosmetics consumers. McDonald’s recognized the need for fast, affordable dining.

None of these three companies were introducing an altogether new offering; rather they were bringing to market a fairly conventional concept, but in a completely novel, creative and differentiated manner – and in a manner that filled a gap.

Tap into the challenges your target customer is experiencing, and differentiate in a way that addresses those challenges.

Identify the opportunity for differentiation

Once you understand the pain in the market, you can start to evaluate the best way to differentiate from your competitors. You will need to survey the competitive landscape and gather information about the other products or services in your space. What are their limitations? Are they expensive? Are they cumbersome or awkward? Do they have tarnished reputations for some reason? Is the quality poor?

You can differentiate based on price, efficiency, convenience, quality, ethical principals, customer support – and many more ways. Determining which one will depend on a variety of factors, but you will have a much more streamlined and powerful message if you choose the one that makes the most sense for your brand.

Herald your differentiation proudly

You will want to tell the world about how you are different…and better. Make sure you build a marketing initiative that broadcasts your differentiated value to all of your stakeholders. Your brand will be stronger and will have greater impact once it is known for those differentiated features. Choose a logo that showcases your unique features; write a tagline that reflects what makes your brand special; leverage social media platforms to talk about how you solve problems that no other company can. And make sure that same message is represented loud and clear on your website.

Keep monitoring your lead

Once you have established your brand as a market leader that provides differentiated value, you will not be able to rest on your laurels. Savvy competitors will be looking for opportunities to pull ahead, and it is incumbent upon you to be mindful of market share and risk. Keep pushing your teams to assess the market and innovate so that you can maintain an edge.

Miller Bernstein can help you to understand your competitive landscape and map a plan for differentiation. For more information and a free consultation, contact us today.

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