Column: Make your business unique

By Andi Gray

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We need a differentiator; as an industry we’re being commoditized. We won’t be able to stay in business forever unless things change.

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Offering something unique boosts profitability and chances for survival in any small business. Avoid price wars. Turn away some buyers in order to create value. Don’t get complacent. Be nimble.

Give clients a reason to choose you. Convenience, advice, results, consistency, confidence, a combo offer, reliability, affiliation or something special — these are all reasons clients might choose your company’s solution over anyone else’s. Decide what value to offer the market and find the market that values your offer.

Dare to be extraordinary. Don’t worry that you can’t match what some other vendor brings to market. Do what others can’t or won’t do, so long as you can charge enough to realize significant profit.

Make sure that the clients you are targeting have renewal capability of their own. Focus on buyers who will be around in the future, asking for more than they do today. Compete as much for future opportunity as you do for current market share.

Watch out for buyers who put out low-cost bids. They are not looking for something special. They are trying to drive a wedge between your value proposition and your pricing strategy. As they sneak in to grab what your company offers at the lowest possible price, they set in motion a chain of events that result in your company’s products or services looking just like everyone else’s.

Believe it — nobody wins a price war. It’s a race to the bottom. Profit evaporates and with it so do funds that could be invested in creating or supporting unique solutions. Don’t go there.

Seek out customers who are learners, innovators, forward-thinkers. Build around them. They’ll keep your business young.

Serve the needs of existing customers who want the same old thing. But don’t invest a lot of time or energy trying to hang onto them. When they’re ready to move on, let them go. They’re part of your past, not your future.

Exclusivity is a powerful tool. Creating “have-nots” can be part of building a value proposition. If everyone wants what your company offers, that’s great. But it may not be so great if everyone can actually acquire it.

Watch out for competitors who copy what you offer. While it’s a form of flattery, it’s also a warning sign. Someone else is moving in on your territory. Reinvent yourself before they make you obsolete.

Sellers who forget to reinvent themselves regularly, who stop listening to their future clients — those are the companies that eventually sink into oblivion. Always think about what comes next. Continuously work on what you will offer one, three, five and 10 years from now.

Occasionally companies have an opportunity to be “the last man standing.” Only try this strategy if everyone else is getting out, and if customers can afford to pay more than they do at present.

Be on the lookout for companies that stopped reinventing themselves. Sellers who get complacent are ripe for the picking. When they run out of steam, step in with a plan to take over their market.

Smaller companies can make changes rapidly. That is a real competitive advantage. Offer existing clients new solutions. Test receptivity until you know what drives value. Then create campaigns to get the marketplace to follow your lead.

LOOKING FOR A GOOD BOOK? Try “Becoming a Category of One: How Extraordinary Companies Transcend Commodity and Defy Comparison” by Joe Calloway.

Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc., a business-consulting firm that teaches companies how to double revenue and triple profits in repetitive growth cycles. Have a question for AskAndi? Wondering how Strategy Leaders can help your business thrive? Call or email for a free consultation and diagnostics: 877-238-3535, AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com. Check out our library of business advice articles: AskAndi.com.

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About the author

Andi Gray
Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc., strategyleaders.com, a business consulting firm that specializes in helping small to midsize, privately held businesses achieve doubled revenues and tripled profits in repetitive growth cycles. Interested in learning how Strategy Leaders can help your business? Call now for a free consultation and diagnostic process: (877) 238-3535. Do you have a question for Andi? Email her: AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com. Visit AskAndi.com for an entire library of her articles.

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