How to gain a competitive advantage? That is one of the most common questions I get asked when working with businesses and this hasn’t changed in over 20 years of running my business.
I am currently working across several sectors, all of which have similar challenges, how do they persuade potential customers to buy their products or services as opposed to going to the competition, in other words, how do they gain a competitive advantage?
In this modern, technology driven world we live in, some business rely totally on digital marketing activity, pouring increasing amounts of money into online and social media activity and there is a lot of evidence to support this strategy. However, there are a number of other activities that need to be included in the overall business and marketing strategy to enable a business to stand out in a crowded market place.
Here are a few key areas that need to be considered and taken into consideration, they apply to all types of business from accountants to FMCG.
- Your product or service; is there a genuine USP or is it down to the way your deliver the service that is the difference? Do you need to develop new products/services to stay ahead?
- Customer Service; is this genuinely the best it can be, it needs to be, this is essential in a market where consumers are more informed and have great access to competition
- Pricing; Whilst you do not need to be the cheapest, you do need to provide value for money and be able to justify that value.
- Marketing; the most important aspect of any marketing is to understand your audience, doing research into who they are, what they want and where they go for their information is essential.
Once you know who your audience is look at the marketing channels they use to get information, this can be online, reading magazines and newspapers, word of mouth or attending events, amongst others. It is most likely a combination of them all and you will need to plan your marketing accordingly.
- Social Responsibility (CSR); This is an area of business that is now becoming more important and is playing an increasing role in the buying decisions of customers of all products/services, ignore it at your peril.
- Internal; This is often an area that is forgotten. Not only are your staff your most important asset and need to be looked after, they should also be your best advocates and sales team. If they are passionate about the business, they will promote it. This is arguably the most important area of your business development and must not be ignored, put your team first.
This is not an exhaustive list but focuses on what I believe are the key areas to focus on when developing a commercial marketing strategy for a business. An experienced marketing director will be able to work with you to develop the overall strategy, but they will need to pull in expertise in some of the areas, this may include product development, digital marketing and CSR amongst others. If you don’t have this expertise in house already, you will need to either recruit expertise into the team or look to use consultants or freelancers to support you.
In the digital marketing field there is now considerable expertise and knowledge in the market place already but with social responsibility, whilst it is the business topic of the moment, there are only a few genuine experts. There are however many who do not completely understand what it is, they get confused between the different terminology such as ESG, CSR, sustainability and social responsibility, how it affects a business and how to put together a strategy that will benefit the business. As with everything in business, done well it can help generate new business, recruit and retain staff and raise the business profile, don’t badly it will cost the business money and reputation.
If you want to understand more about how to put an effective commercial marketing strategy together or a social responsibility strategy that will demonstrate your ESG compliance and align your business with the UN Social Development Goals then contact me.