Despite the new wave of machine tool marketing strategies, the classic question remains to be answered: "Why should I do business with you...and not your competitors?" In "Creating Competitive Advantage", Jaynie L. Smith contends that most CEOs and owners cannot answer the question. "In researching mid-market companies I found only two CEOs out of 1,000 who could clearly name their companies' competitive advantage. The other 99.8% could offer only vague, imprecise generalities."
Her book identifies the five fatal flaws that are perpetuated in industrial marketing and which represent the unspoken challenges any vendor must resolve:
- They don't have a competitive advantage, but think they do.
- They have a competitive advantage but don't know what it is --so they lower prices.
- They know what their competitive advantage is, but neglect to tell clients about it.
- They mistake "strengths" for competitive advantage.
- They don't connect on competitive advantage when making strategic and operational decisions.
Smith's recommendations include:
- Start with objectivity -- go beyond citing good quality and great customer service and show customers how much you save them.
- Create a competitive advantage culture. Competitive advantages don't happen by themselves. They require planning, decision-making and implementation.
- Turn your disadvantages into competitive advantages. The staff member who identifies a critical disadvantage might be the most effective person to fix it.
Publisher: Doubleday, May 16, 2006, $19.95
Jaynie L. Smith is founder of Smart Advantage Inc., a management consultancy based in Hollywood, Fla.