In marketing, the concept of “competitive advantage” is thrown around fairly loosely. While there are many tips and tricks up any marketer or executive’s sleeve about what might give a business the edge they need to outrun the competition, there is only one true competitive advantage.
The true competitive advantage is the one that lasts. There is not a single positive aspect of your business today that will enable you to truly compete, if you can’t maintain it.
Today, we’ll discuss what sustainable competitive advantage is really all about, and why it’s better for your company to run the business marathon, rather than get caught up in the all-too-common tactical sprints.
Defining Sustainable Competitive Advantage (SCA)
Defining your sustainable competitive advantage means identifying what your business’s true, lasting strengths are in the market. Your sustainable competitive advantage is what you have in your company toolbox that allows you to not only get ahead of the competition, but to stay ahead of the competition.
Unsure of what this looks like in terms of your brand? Some examples of SCA to reflect on include:
● Differentiated product or service offering (difficult to replicate or imitate): Are you in a crowded space with many brands fighting for prospects in your ideal target audience (maybe even offering near-identical products or services)? Or rather, have you differentiated your brand in the market, holding true to unique offerings that are incomparable to others?
● Barriers to market entry: Sure, your customers gravitate toward you when you are the sole solution to their pressing needs – but what about when another brand swoops in and claims a portion of your market share? How likely is this in your particular market? Are there high or low barriers to entry?
● Reliably low price-point: While an unbeatable low price-point at the best of times can be a competitive advantage in the moment, what happens when the world shifts (think Covid, or supply chain issues)? Will your prices rise with the tides, or do you have the structural
sustainability in place to continue positioning yourself at the same price point?
● Consistently high-quality products or services: What standards and/or protocols do you have in place to show up for your customers at a high-level today, tomorrow and every day? How do you keep the quality of your products and services high? While every ounce of
customer satisfaction matters, long-term sustainability is what keeps your brand alive.
● Innovation-oriented: How does your brand characteristically react to the winds of change? Forward-looking companies – those that see the opportunity in adaptation, evolution, and innovation – tend to be the businesses and brands that endure.
Memorable Brands Over Passing Trends
There is nothing wrong with keeping up with trends and best practices to bolster your brand’s market standing. But don’t let the tactical noise of the market drown out the sound of what actually helps you cut through that chatter.
Your sustainable competitive advantage is about so much more than just how many followers you have today or what benefits you reap from the current state of the market.
Rather, your sustainable competitive advantage is what permeates through your brand’s ongoing positioning and sets you apart in the industry. It’s what allows you to stand firm enough to establish a brand legacy, and fluid enough to respond to whatever the future holds.