We’ve been speaking about competitiveness a fair bit on this platform and it’s become evident that for most people competitiveness is measured by the price, the lower the better. The reality is in business and in life competition is made up of many more factors. So to that end, this article looks at the areas or aspects in which one can improve in order to be more competitive in their chosen endeavour other than price.
Expediency is very important and in many cases the ability to deliver a good, service or desired outcome faster than your competition is a great source of competitive advantage. So if you can work out kinks in your delivery process or perhaps engage in some business process re-engineering to find ways to deliver faster.
Conversations of quality always remind me of high school business management teacher who asked the class what quality is. Most responses had to do with price, durability, the beauty of design and so on. Her answer was that price is the suitability of a product for its purpose. And that is the foundation of understanding the quality of your product, how well does it serve the user? Through education and experience, I’ve learned that quality is whatever the customer says it is because they determine the use case and its suitability. On this one, you need open feedback channels to understand what additions, subtractions or other changes would lead to greater customer satisfaction. Remember that sometimes the market may have a different purpose for your product than your intention for it.
In the current economic environment, we don’t produce much locally and for that reason, most in the market are basically retailers. Due to this, the individual products are pretty much the same across the board so value addition could be useful to your business. Asking yourself where your customer is coming from or going to. If you’re going to sell food it makes sense to sell beverages. A social media manager would do well to know digital marketing. The idea is to offer additional related services along with the product. A package deal makes your product greater value.
Simplifying the product is another great way to improve product competitiveness. Human beings are logical creatures that seek simplicity and given two options we would rationally choose the option that is simpler to implement. Entire industries like mobile phones were born from this effort. It’s not necessarily about wildly transforming your product; make it easier for the customer to opt-in and use. Is there a way you can reduce the number of steps involved in signing up? How about the use of instructions. When it comes to choosing products to use, 1 step is better than 3.
Where simplicity relates to the usage of product convenience is a matter of access to the product. A relatable example is how what are now social media giants Facebook and Twitter moved to the mobile app platform delivery method though they both started as websites. Their meteoric rise since is the evidence. Perhaps your business too could be improved with a simple app or a responsive website that actually offers your services and not just an info page. Perhaps a look at your ordering process or payment terms could be the thing.
The Pareto principle tells us that 80% of our business comes from only 20% of our customers. If your understanding of business is anything like mine I’d expect you’d expend more of your energy and advertising budget trying to reach the 20% that bring in the 80%. That’s kind of how business is. We have this brilliant myth that says “everyone is my customer”. Stop it! The reality is the businesses that do best have narrowed down their focus to the 20%. They are of course still happy to accept money from the other 80% but realize that their energy is best spent on the 20. Catering to your hardcore or die-hard customers is the key to business longevity. In fact, businesses tend to experience greater growth when they focus their efforts on the 20%.
This is overstated yet underrated. All the mobile apps and payment technology in the world don’t make up for good customer service. In the book Onward, Starbucks head Howard Schultz details to some degree the philosophy that made Starbucks coffee a hit, make one great cup of coffee and repeat. You see while we have mass media and digital communication tools that allow us to communicate with millions at a time, we still serve customers one at a time. Or at least it seems so in their eyes. So it’s important to treat each customer interaction right. Politeness, courtesy, respect and dedication. Depending on your products customer service can go long beyond the point of purchase and it should.
And there you go, price is not the only factor. You honestly should use all of these ideas and find ways to apply them in your business. The tougher economic situation requires an even more competitive business and many make the mistake, even on a national level, of thinking competitiveness is price.