Every now and again I read a book that plenty of other people rave about but I don’t get – Creating Competitive Advantage: Give Customers A Reason To Choose You Over Your Competitors by Jaynie L. Smith is such a book.
I want you to be inspired to escape the commodity trap, to create and communicate competitive advantages that differentiate your business so I’m very prepared to concede that I’m wrong about Creating Competitive Advantage.
Creating Competitive Advantage Review
Sometimes a writing style just doesn’t click with me.
Sometimes the message in a book doesn’t connect with me.
First I’ll quibble with the title. The book is more about communicating competitive advantage than creating it.
Just as Beyond Price looks at differentiation from a leadership perspective, Creating Competitive Advantage is from a marketing perspective.
The Highlight Of Creating Competitive Advantage
The big plus I got from the book – and it’s something I’ve been guilty of ignoring, even though I know better – is to quantify.
“We provide excellent service” is meaningless. It’s a bland cliché that washes over a customer.
“We deliver 98.3% of orders by the due delivery date” is much more impressive.
And that’s the type of statement that Creating Competitive Advantage calls a competitive advantage.
Are These Competitive Advantages?
It is if competitors offer much less consistency, it’s not if delivery date promises are padded out so much that delivery lead time is twice that from competitors because that means customers have to either a) make a poor offer to their customers which isn’t competitive or b) carry more stock which increases their costs.
Combining “We deliver 98.3% of orders by the due delivery date” with “Our delivery lead times are 52% faster than average” is more impressive and on its way to being a competitive advantage.
But even then, you’re in danger of leaving a statement floating as the equivalent of a feature – you need to drive home the benefit so the customers really understand the consequences. In the delivery example it might be “customers switching to us are able to achieve an average of 27% reduction in inventory, putting $109,000 back in their bank accounts and improving their own delivery based competitive advantage.”
I’ve copped out on the last bit because you should really quantify the value of the extra sales but the sentence was already getting a bit complicated.
The true competitive advantage in a B2B market is how much you can save or earn for your customers – if it doesn’t lead to more money in their bank account then what you claim to be a competitive advantage is a mirage.
Examples Used In Creating Competitive Advantage
Jaynie Smith uses plenty of examples from her own clients in Creating Competitive Advantage but it means that the book comes across as a promotion for her consultancy services. Perhaps a bit more theory and then case studies in the entrepreneurs’ or CEOs’ words would have made it easier to connect with. I think it’s much nicer if clients do your bragging for you.
Differentiating your business by creating one or more competitive advantage is such an important issue that it is worth taking a look at this book and making your own mind up. It doesn’t cost much and one idea can repay the cost many times over.
Competitive advantage is that important.
Have You Read Creating Competitive Advantage?
If you’ve read the book, then I’d love to know what you think.
I thought I’d get more out of reading it. As someone who underlines and highlight to make it easier to go back to at a later stage, my copy doesn’t have many markings which reinforces the point that it didn’t connect with me.
Better Books About Creating Competitive Advantage
I didn’t like Creating Competitive Advantage but if you are looking for guidance, either before or instead of speaking to a strategy consultant, I can recommend the following (the links take you to my reviews):
Turning A Business Around Blayney – this is the easiest to read for a small business owner
Paul Simister is a business strategy coach who helps small business owners to profit from differentiating their businesses, by being distinctive in the eyes of their customers and standing out in a crowded marketplace…. in other words, by building a business to be proud of.