Can competitive advantages help a company compete when there is one company in the market that is so big and dominant that it is thought of as the 800 pound gorilla?

We’ve had a number of clients significantly grow their business attracting customers away from bigger competitors by showcasing significant value propositions based on validated competitive advantages. These are the companies Warren Buffett seeks out.  Competitive advantages of smaller companies providegreat ammunition in those battles.

One company we worked with was a chemical distributor who completely revised their messaging focusing on competitive advantage performance that their large competitors could not offer consistently.  To their credit, they were already operationally strong, but rarely shared valuable metrics proving superior performance delivery.  Their value proposition was not readily apparent to customers.

After conducting market research of their customers and prospects designed to learn which buying factors most influenced the selection of a chemical distributor, they knew exactly what to measure for top performance.  They did not throw a bucket full of marketing claims at customers and prospects, but only the three top values that mattered most, and they consistently expressed their value proposition to their marketplace.

Once they shifted their message, they were able to get the attention of large buyers who previously wouldn’t give them the time of day.  In fact, they quickly landed a $1 million order – taken directly from a much larger competitor.

They became so profitable that they began to buy out smaller competitors, and eventually they became large enough that they merged with another leading chemical distributor.  They are now one of the industry’s bigger players. Now they are the 800-pound gorilla.

The first  chapter in Jaynie Smith’s book Creating Competitive Advantage tells the story of Jtech.

Jtech was the inventor of the restaurant pager and had a small manufacturing plant in Florida.  Suddenly Motorola, “the pager people,” decided to compete with them.  Jaynie helped them uncover one very simple competitive advantage in a quick workshop: “Of the 50 largest restaurant chains in North America who use pagers, 100% use Jtech pagers.”  The message to the marketplace and to Motorola was clear, and it kept the 800 pound gorilla out of their business!

As a smaller company, what assurances – and proof – can you give potential buyers that they will get what they want and when they want it if they buy from you?

We have a mantra at Smart Advantage that we emphasize; “build confidence, reduce risk, to minimize price in the buying decision.”   Jtech sure did that. Every company can do that, but you must take the time to uncover your own gems.  That is how you do battle with the big competitors!

March, 2023

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