Differentiate Your Company by Celebrating YOU! Part 3 of 3

Competitive Advantages

 

Step 3. Your Business Competitive Advantages

This is the last part of a three-part series. We have looked at your personal mission, your business purpose and what your customer wants. Let’s look at your competitive advantages and telling your story.

Competitive advantages are simply the things your company does better than your competitors.  They influence your customers and potential customers to use your company, rather than the competition. You and your team (especially your sales team) can brainstorm to identify what your competitive advantages are, and the ones you want to acquire.

Brainstorm Your Competitive Advantages

You can begin your brainstorming meeting with reading your company purpose statement, and ask your team, “What are we really good at?”  “What do we want to be really good at?” Your final product is simply a list of things your company does well.  Knowing this will help your employees to tell your story (more about that later).

Incorporating Needs of Owners, Customers, Employees and, Stakeholders

In summary, the marketing foundation of your business should incorporate the needs of owners, customers, employees, and all other stakeholders. Some other things to consider as competitive advantages could include your facility, business affiliations, and credentials such as certification, company awards, service guarantees, value-added services, technology, and the best employees.

success-coach

 

Step 4. It’s time to tell your story

At this point, your task becomes crystal clear!  Your job is to close the gap between where your company is, and where you want it to go.  Your role as a leader is ensuring your business is living its values (starting with you), heading in the direction of your vision, and accomplishing its mission daily. You set goals that will move you in the right direction and lead your company toward the goals.  As you achieve the goals, you celebrate and set new goals.  The process never stops; you keep taking “baby steps” toward your long term purpose.  The most important part of this process is “Telling Your Story.”

Telling the Story Energizes You, Your Team and Others

As the leader, you keep articulating your business purpose and your competitive advantages to your employees, your customers, your vendors, and your other stakeholders.  You keep the vision alive by “Telling Your Story.”  Every time you tell the story, you energize yourself and your audience!  It is amazing to watch employees, customers, vendors, and other stakeholders line up behind you, and begin to help you in the achievement of your purpose.

Find Ways to Communicate Your Business Purpose and Competitive Advantages

There are limitless ways to tell your story. You can use employee meetings, customer presentations, a company newsletter, a printed purpose statement for each office, new employee orientation, discussing it during employee interviews, printing it on the back of your business cards, recording it on your telephone hold message, brainstorming with your employees how to make one aspect of your purpose statement reality, the list goes on and on.

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Your Business Practicing What You Preach

As you do this again and again with your employees and encourage them to get the word out, they get excited and become part of your marketing team. And speaking of marketing, your business purpose and competitive advantages will serve as the foundation to share with your advertising team, vendors, and your community.  But to keep this excitement and momentum building, you have to make sure you “practice what you preach.”

Dr. Richard Cole, COO of Blue Cross Blue Shield, says the following about product differentiation: “When positioning your company in the marketplace, don’t let anybody fool you.  It is the behavior of your organization, not what you say about it, that counts.”  You, the leader, must ensure that your employees are “walking the talk.”

Conclusion

In summary, to differentiate your company, write a personal and business purpose statement, find out what the customer wants, develop your competitive advantages, and tell the story again and again.  Like anything else in life that is worthwhile, differentiating your business is plain hard work.  There are no shortcuts to success.  But if you are diligent and persist, you and your customers will eventually begin to see the difference in your company, and you will have a reason to celebrate!

This article is Part 3 of 3. Read Part 1

Alan Melton co-founded and led an award-winning company before selling it to a publicly held company. He has started and led 10 companies and presently serves as owner of three growing businesses. Alan is sharing his experience with entrepreneurs and executives who want to get on the fast track to achieving their personal goals.  President of Small Business Coach & Assoc., Alan is a nationally known writer, speaker and business leader.

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Differentiate Your Company by Celebrating YOU! Part 2 of 3

Differentiation

In part 1 of this 3 part series we looked at developing a personal mission statement. Now that you have completed your personal values, vision and mission it’s time to move on to your business. Just as you are unique, so must your business be. Your business must stand out from the rest. It is called differentiation. What is differentiation and how do you do this?

Step 1b. Your Business Purpose Statement

At this point, you may be saying, “I already tried that, and it didn’t work.” Or “That stuff is a bunch of meaningless, feel-good fluff.”  In fact, both of those statements go hand-in-hand; they can become self-fulfilling prophecies!  Unless you are sincere in your writing of a purpose statement, and you are sincere in actually transforming your statement into reality, you are wasting your time. Your purpose statement should be a living document that is pondered, communicated, revised, and energized as part of your day-to-day activities, and this will not happen without real effort and hard work.  This statement should become the driving force of every activity in your business.

Your Business Differentiation is YOU!

In the same way that you are different than other people, your business is naturally different; it is an extension of you.  This fact is your most basic and unchanging business differentiation.  Once you have established your personal mission, you can start to build your business around your unique personal characteristics.

Writing Your Business Vision, Values and Mission

Writing values, vision, and mission statements for your business are done in much the same way as your personal mission statement.  Your values address who you are (or want to be), your vision articulates where you want to be in the future, and your mission describes how you will get there (your product and services).

Draft a Business Purpose Statement

The best way to draft a purpose statement is to involve your employees in creating a shared purpose statement.  This method enhances “buy-in” from you’re your team, and aids in the deployment of the behaviors and actions related to the statements.  Simply ask them the questions I provided earlier in this article, and write down their answers on a flip chart or bulletin board.

Of course, you will articulate your personal vision to your employees as part of this brainstorming session.  Be sure to include values, vision, and mission in your final copy.  The statements can be long and detailed or short and concise.  Concise statements are easier to remember and repeat, but detailed statements add more “meat to the bones.”  My organizational statements include a short sentence summary statement, printed in bold, with a paragraph explanation printed underneath.

Once you have produced your purpose statements, you should have a clearer vision of where you are, where you are going, and how you will get there.  This sets the stage for the next step: determining what the customer wants.

Benefits of Developing a Purpose Statement

In the last issue (part 1 of 2) I addressed the first steps in differentiating your company; Step 1a. Developing a personal purpose statement, and Step 1b. Developing a company purpose statement. Once you have produced your purpose statements, you should have a clearer vision of where you are, where you are going, and how you will get there.  Not only is the purpose statement a great marketing tool, but it will also benefit every other aspect of your organization as well.  This sets the stage for the next step: determining what the customer wants.

Differentiation

Step 2.  What Your Customers Want

Since you want to influence certain customers to use your company over your competitors, it is crucial that you determine what your customers want.  But only after you have decided what you want!  The fact is in most companies there are some customers that just don’t fit well.  They may have different values, they may have different pricing requirements or different service demands.  We can’t be all things to all people!  Once we know what we want (our purpose), we can better define what customers are best aligned with our company; the ones that we will most likely experience long term success.  Having done this, we can determine what they want.

Involve Your Customers!

Enlist your customers and potential customers to help you design your service.  Interview them individually or in small focus groups to get ideas on service design.  Then create an action plan that incorporates their ideas and your team’s ideas.  As you execute the plan, you will experience success in the following ways;

  • Since your services will be tailored to your customer’s needs, they will be happy.
  • Your customers will have a personal stake in your success since they have “taken you under their wing.”  Your business becomes their business.
  • Your customers will likely refer you to other potential customers.

Once you have a good understanding of what your customer wants, you can establish some competitive advantages and potential competitive advantages that line up with your company’s direction.

This article is Part 2 of 3. Read Part 3

Alan Melton co-founded and led an award-winning company before selling it to a publicly held company. He has started and led eight companies and presently serves as CEO of four growing businesses. Alan is sharing his experience with entrepreneurs and executives who want to get on the fast track to achieving their personal goals.  President of Small Business Coach & Assoc., Alan is a nationally known writer, speaker and business leader.

Questions about Differentiation?

Call us at 1-888-504-0777, or email us:

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