SBEC shares tips on creating a competitive advantage

September 8, 2022   ·   0 Comments

Every business is looking for a way to differentiate themselves from the competition and generate revenue at a reasonable margin. While many businesses choose to compete on price, this is not a sustainable strategy unless you have significant buying power. Even then, many of your competitors will attempt to match or undercut your pricing in order to compete for the customer’s attention — ultimately leading to an erosion of your profit margin.

When analyzing the marketplace and looking to both retain and attract new customers, business owners need to find their competitive advantage – the hook that will secure current customers and garner new ones in the process. To create a competitive advantage, a business must provide a clear benefit to its target market that is uniquely different, or better than, what the competition offers. There must be a compelling reason for people to do business with you rather than with other businesses. All points of differentiation fall under one of three primary categories: people, products, or operations. Although a business should try to excel in all three areas, it takes excellence in just one of these categories to outperform the competition.


One of the most obvious areas of differentiation is staff. The advantage of having friendly, knowledgeable and proactive personnel must never be underestimated. According to, a customer-centric company is one which “makes the customer the focal point of all decisions related to delivering products, services and experiences to create customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.” These companies are focused on building strong customer relationships and through these relationships, the business knows the people they are selling to and the specific products and services that the customers need and want. Customer-focused companies empower staff to have direct contact with the customer and tend to look at the lifetime value of the customer rather than the value of a single transaction.


Another way to stand apart from the competition is to offer unique products or services that the competition cannot. Although your business’s offerings may appear to be similar to those of the competition, there are ways to position your products/services in a better light. Through either perceived or proven differences in product or service quality and reliability, customers will gravitate to your products when price points are similar. Can you offer a product with unique design characteristics? Even minor cosmetic touches can be sufficient to differentiate your offerings and allow you to gain the upper hand. Adding features and functionality to a product or enhancing service offerings can command a higher price point while providing additional value to the consumer. Finally, customization of a product not only makes it unique to you as the manufacturer but may also make it unique to the user.


Some companies are able to create a competitive advantage through execution of their services. For example, companies that operate an eCommerce business or rely on their website to generate customers and revenue can create a distinct advantage by making the site more attractive or easier to navigate, thereby creating a better, easier online shopping experience. Free and expedited shipping, online discounts, and volume price incentives are examples of operational distinctions that can help separate a business from others in the marketplace. In light of today’s ongoing supply chain issues, for businesses in any sector, simply having stock of the inventory customers are looking for can create brand loyalty. 

Business owners must make a conscious choice as to which of the three competitive disciplines they will focus on based on the company’s capabilities and culture. In today’s competitive environment, a business must find its unique selling proposition and then advertise and promote that competitive advantage, reinforcing the message with every communication to customers.

Mark Jamieson is the Co-ordinator of the Orangeville & Area Small Business Enterprise Centre. He can be reached at, 519-941-0440 Ext. 2270 or via cell phone at 519-942-6334.

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