Getting noticed in the marketplace has always been a challenge, even more so lately. There are competing communication channels and everyone is trying to stand out from the crowd. Positioning your company for success can begin by identifying and leveraging your strengths. The three areas that I believe most companies can stand out in are with their people, their products and their processes. Drilling down into these areas can be the catalyst in leveraging your competitive advantage in the marketplace. Categorize what you really do best in these areas and tell it in a story that is meaningful and relevant to your target audience.
Celebrate Your People
I hear businesses talk about their people all the time. They say things like, “we have great people,” or “our people are our biggest asset.” OK, but how are they great or why are they your biggest asset? More importantly, tell me how that will make a difference to me if I’m a customer. WIIFM — what’s in it for me? It could be as simple as saying your people are your greatest asset, and for example, our average tenure is 18 years which means they have seen almost every situation and can readily solve any issues that might come up. Or perhaps it’s that they take the time to really understand our customers and form lasting relationships with them. They are able to anticipate their customer’s needs and sometimes even complete their thoughts as well as they can.
What Are You Making That Is Different?
The next area of focus are the products you make. When you examine the range of products that you provide for your customers, there’s probably a select group that makes up the bulk of your business. You may also have those that fall outside of the norm — the outliers. Which ones do you excel at and why? How are you different than the 10 other companies that you compete with? Hint: you are different! Having had the privilege to be in many manufacturing operations, even those companies with the same equipment do things differently. Get your team together, and dissect how you engineer and execute a project. You’ll be able to pull out the nuances that will make a difference in the marketplace.
Differentiate Through Your Process
As the third area of focus, your process and workflow can sometimes be akin to your secret sauce. How do you make what you make and why do you do it that way? There are good reasons for all of it and the better you’re able to articulate them, the more likely you’ll be able to use that as a differentiator in the marketplace. Process and workflow isn’t just a path for a digital file. It has everything to do with how you process customer requests all the way through to getting paid. Is it easy for your staff to navigate through your internal maze? If it is, it’s likely going to be easy for your customers to buy from you as well. Learn what your customers think about working with you and use that as feedback to your team for continuous improvement of your internal processes.
You can stand out in the marketplace with a focus around your people, your products and your processes — but you have to tell your story so that it resonates with your intended audience. Drill down and amplify those strengths so that they can become the catalyst in leveraging your competitive advantage in the marketplace. Doing this will prepare you for anyone saying, “so what” to one of you differentiation statements.
Have a great story to tell, and back it up with lights-out execution with each customer exchange and on every project you ship out the door.
If you have any comments or thoughts as to how you’ve approached these issues, please send me a note or include them below.
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic advice, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in Printing Impressions.