Signed, Sealed, Deliverables: Identifying Your Company’s Competitive Advantages

One of the most important questions that a company can ask itself is, “Why will a customer buy from us instead of our competition?”

If your company’s only answer is price then you may quickly find yourself painted into a corner while your profit margins plummet. To avoid that fate, what you should be focusing on instead are your deliverables — the characteristics, actions, and behaviors that set your company apart from competitors.

There are numerous deliverables that might make your company stand out beyond the actual products or services it sells, including:

  • Customer service
  • Quality or reputation
  • The results you deliver for your customers
  • Employees or professional network
  • Resource base
  • Consistency
  • Innovation
  • Trust/relationships
  • Speed of implementation

Staying away from both price and product features for the moment, consider all of the above deliverables and offerings that apply to your business, and add any others you can think of that are not on the list. There are only two rules to follow:

  1. Any deliverables that you add need to be objective.
  2. You must be able to quantify all deliverables.

Listing your company’s deliverables is the first step toward crafting competitive advantage statements that will allow you to differentiate your company from the competition in a succinct and meaningful way, making your products and services easier to market and sell.

Here are two examples:

Deliverable: Employees

Competitive Advantage Statement: “We invest $1,000,000 every year in training our engineers.”

Deliverable: Trust

Competitive Advantage Statement: “Our customer retention rate is 95% — twice that of our nearest competitor.”

The goal should be to draft a number of different statements for each of your deliverables. Often, the same deliverable can be presented in a wide variety of ways, and brainstorming will help you unlock the possibilities.

As you craft your statements, make sure your claims are:

  • Objective
  • Quantified
  • Based on truth
  • Not a given or cliché
  • Not being made by competitors (and ideally can’t)

Being able to articulate why your company is different through messaging is an essential component of an effective marketing strategy. After all, your unique value statements will most likely appear on all of your marketing materials (e.g., your website, blog, e-newsletter, etc.) and be used throughout the sales process.

Here are some tips for fine-tuning your statements:

  • Support your statements with a number, ranking, or superlative (“93 percent of customers…”, “Largest…”, “Only…”, “Number One…”, etc.), but stay away from creating statements that are inflated.
  • Numbers that aren’t cleanly rounded sound more believable and scientific; using a decimal can also be effective (“93 percent of customers…” versus “98.4 percent of deliveries…”, etc.).
  • Relative comparisons can be very powerful (“4:1 over the competition…”, “3x faster than…”, etc.). Remember to be cautious when naming competitors directly.
  • Combining two numbers, such as a percentage and an absolute value, can make statements more credible; however, be careful about packing too much data into a statement.

Editor’s Note: For more information on competitive messaging, as well as practical guidance and tools you can use to develop and measure the effectiveness of your own competitive messages, download OpenView’s free eBook, Why Us? A Guide to Competitive Messaging.

photo by: Svenstorm

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