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Competitive advantage

Your marketing strategy needs to communicate your clear and sustainable advantage (over your competition) that meets the needs and delivers relevant benefits to your target audience.

From your prospect's perspective, this boils down to:

1. Why should I choose you?  

2. Can you do something for me that nobody else can do?

3. Or can you do something better than anyone else?

Once you've identified your competitive (or differential) advantage you can then develop it into your positioning.

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Jack Welch, the legendary former CEO of General Electric said “There are only two sources of competitive advantage:

  1. The ability to learn more about our customers, faster than the competition and
  2. The ability to turn that learning into action faster than the competition.

To develop a competitive advantage

To do this ask yourself:

  1. What market sectors do you need to develop?
  2. Which of your products/services does research tell you should be offered to each sector or segment?
  3. What advantages do your competitors offer?
  4. What are their strengths?
  5. What are the service gaps? (see what constitutes 'service')
  6. What are your sources of competitive advantage?
  7. How can this competitive advantage be sustained?

To sustain a competitive advantage

In order to be sustainable, your competitive advantage must be:

  • Relevant to the current and future needs of the market/your segmented target audience.
  • Relevant to the size, ability, nature and resources of your organisation.
  • Defensible (i.e. difficult for your competitors to replicate).

For your business, work out the barriers that will stop competitors copying your advantage.

(Competitive advantage definition)


Porter (1985) argues that an organisation that is looking for competitive advantage should have:

  1. Cost leadership.
  2. Differentiation.
  3. Focus.

See the role of service in delivering competitive advantage.

Also consider your other strategic options

Video mentor - on Competitive Advantage

A good introduction to competitive advantage by Erica Olsen (length 3.42 minutes)