Ever felt like you are always just a step behind your competitors? You have very good services or products but there is that intangible barrier between you and your competitors. Ever felt that way before?
A perfect recipe for failure in business is choosing to compete in an obvious area of weakness, or doing something your competitor can do much better than you. Every brand is good in some way, but being good is not enough? What is more important is what you do better than everyone else, and that is what you should be focused on highlighting.
In Africa, you can almost be certain that the minute someone launches an innovation or idea into a business space, there are two or three other entrepreneurs out there thinking of how to counter or compete with the same product. Therefore, if your product or service is just something general with no specific advantage over others, you could easily get knocked out in no time despite being the first to launch out.
A competitive advantage should be something that cannot be easily replicated or overturned. Some call it your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). What are you giving me, that your competitors cannot?
This in itself shows that you must have known what your market desire in a product, what your competitor is giving them, and what they are not providing with their solutions. Analyzing your competitors’ products is not to copy it, but to spot a weak point that you know you can fill in with your product.
If you are the first entrepreneur in your space, then you should decide from the beginning, what is that one feature that allows you to put your strong foot forward. You need to know and focus on those fights you can win, and leave out those fights you will never win.
Is your product cheaper? Does it have a local appeal? Does it attend to a section of the market that has been largely ignored by other brands? Do you provide better quality? Better after-sales services? Do you have more expertise? Can you provide a better customer experience than your competitor?
We have recently seen a recent launch of digital banks in different countries across Africa. Now, these banks know that they do not have the asset base, track record, or even customer service to compete with the bigger banks, so they go for those areas they see that customers are already dissatisfied with banking service.
For instance, we have one that promises zero transaction fees on up to 100 transactions a month. We have another promising and impressive interest rate on savings. These digital banks had done their research and identified pain points the customers were having in an already saturated space, and they came in with that Unique Selling Proposition. They chose their battles wisely, opting to fight from an area of strength.
At the center of the USP is customer satisfaction and this is not even negotiable. Check out a lot of the businesses around you that have failed, and you will find that they did not establish their USP; or even where they did, they did not communicate it to their market. A feature as simple as ‘quick and effective delivery’ can make all the difference for a business.
Applied correctly, competitive advantage can help you make a smooth market entry even in a saturated space, and help you earn and sustain loyalty to your brand.
So, for the entrepreneurs in the building, what do you think is your competitive advantage?
EDITOR’S NOTE: The article was written by Samuel Akinniyi Ajiboyede, the Founder and CEO of Zido Freight.
In Africa’s business landscape, there is a select group of individuals who have achi…