by: Jerry Osteryoung
When I am meeting a business for the first time, I always ask them what they feel is their competitive advantage. Frequently, the only response I get is a blank stare – which is not good.
Understanding what gives you a competitive advantage in the marketplace is important for every business – first understanding it, then continuously communicating it to both your customers and staff.
I think every business has some kind of competitive advantage, but some are preferred over others. For example, having low prices is, for me, not a very good advantage in that it does not develop customer loyalty or attract the type of customers who will appreciate the other benefits your business has to offer.
A competitive advantage can be defined in terms of having superiority in one or more of three attributes. The first is product or service quality. For example, Apple clearly has a competitive advantage in bringing innovative products to market, and the big box stores like Wal-Mart and PetSmart bring the advantage of depth of inventory. These quality advantages really differentiate these businesses from their competitors.