Industryweek 1168 11605compadvcover

Creating Competitive Advantage

March 10, 2006
IndustryWeek takes a few excerpts from the book, Creating Competitive Advantage.

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.

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