Dear Aunty B,
My business feels like it is stale. Our problem is we have too many competitors and we do not stand out in the marketplace. We also operate in a mature industry.
Is it possible that we are just not good enough? Or is it impossible to stand out in a slow growing industry?
Potts Point, NSW
You, my friend, have a problem. You are a “me too business” coming into a downturn, and you must find a compelling advantage now.
It is not impossible – in fact the majority of businesses compete in mature markets or slow growth industries. And many of them stand out.
Just think for a moment. In every industry you could think of new players that burst through the industry door with a simple new innovation and changed the industry. Or incumbent players that shake off their malaise or get a new CEO and become the new rockets.
So what does it?
It can be a reduction in cost, a great design, new technology, a different function, a product innovation, a different sales model and so on. But one new great idea is not enough. The way to get a sustainable, competitive advantage is to have several attributes that your customers in your niche value. And the attributes must be of significant value – not just “better service”.
Are you good enough to come up with some significant new attributes to make you stand out? Probably. Business is not rocket science.
There is a cute little book by Seth Godin called The Dip.
He includes a list of “Seven reasons you might fail to become the best in the world”:
- You run out of time (and quit).
- You run out of money (and quit).
- You get scared (and quit).
- You’re not serious about it (and quit).
- You lose interest and enthusiasm or settle for being mediocre (and quit).
- You focus on the short term instead of the long (and quit when the short term gets too harsh).
- You pick the wrong thing at which to be the best in the world.
Your Aunty B.