How To Create A Competitive Claim That Is More Than Hot Air

Most companies struggle with defining what makes them unique; different from their competitors. They can’t answer the question “Why should I do business with you and NOT your competition?” in a succinct meaningful way.

There are two traps they fall into.

First, they generally speak to the internal capabilities an organization has (what leadership believes are the differentiators) rather than being explicit about how they compare to others in the market. “We provide the highest quality products.”; “Our people are our greatest asset.” They stress technology. They talk about their size and claim market leadership.

Second, most competitive advantage statements are high level and aspirational in nature. They are not precise and specific enough to communicate how an organization is special among the choices available. “We provide the best value.” “We have been in business for 100 years.” “We offer the lowest prices out there.”

The use of helium filled adjectives often abound. Overused and eye-glazing descriptors like: better, best, top, #1, excellent, great, greatest, lowest, most and so on pervade the advertising airwaves.

A competitive claim must declare the difference between your organization and your competitors AND it must be precise enough so that people can “see” the difference. You can’t see “greatest” for example and you can’t see “most”. They mean different things to different people.

As the solution, create The ONLY Statement as an element of the Strategic Game Plan

“We are the ONLY ones that…” is its form.

ONLY must be brief. If it takes you a page of narrative to define your competitive advantage, you don’t have one.

ONLY never includes the “P” word. Claiming a price advantage is a slippery slope as price can be easily copied and it says nothing about value provided. “The reason it seems that price is all your customers care about is that you haven’t given them anything else to care about. “ – Seth Godin

A couple of ONLY examples:

“We provide the ONLY solution that permanently stops people from depositing biohazard contaminants through manhole covers”— MUG Solutions, Vancouver

“St John Ambulance is the ONLY provider of First Aid, Health & Safety Solutions Anytime, Anywhere”— St John Ambulance, Vancouver

Test ONLY with your customers to ensure it addresses something they care about, and you consistently demonstrate 24/7. The ONLY Statement works. It can be observed. It can be measured. People get it.

Start your ONLY journey today….

(About the Author:  Roy Osing (@RoyOsing) is a former executive vice-president and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience. He is a blogger, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead.)

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photo credit: Len Radin via photopin cc

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