What Are Your Competitive Advantages? 68 Specific Marketing Tips from Jaynie

Jaynie L. Smith is a corporate keynote speaker, author, and competitive advantage consultant who has been featured on many business news networks. Jaynie’s book helps to focus your marketing message so that you get ahead of your competitors and both get and keep more customers. Below is the MLA citation of my copy of Jaynie’s book followed by my notes with the page citations.

Smith, Jaynie L., with William G. Flanagan. Creating Competitive Advantage: Give Customers A Reason to Choose You Over Your Competitors. New York: Doubleday, 2006.

What Are Competitive Advantages?

  1. Competitive advantages make your business stand out and they are the reason you’re in business. To reap the benefits of competitive advantages, they must be marketed properly (Smith 1).
  2. Competitive advantages are the reason why customers choose you over the competition (Smith 2).
  3. Competitive advantages answer the questions “why should I do business with you?” and “what are you offering that the other guy doesn’t?” (Smith 2).
  4. There are external and internal competitive advantages. External competitive advantages should be well known to customers and internal competitive advantages are essential for businesses selling commodities (like Walmart’s purchasing power or Coca Cola’s distribution) (Smith 14).
  5. Jay B. Barney defines ‘Competitive Advantage’: “A firm is said to have a sustained competitive advantage when it is implementing a value-creating strategy not simultaneously being implemented by any current or potential competitors and when these firms are unable to duplicate the benefits of this strategy.” (Smith 19)
  6. There are four types of sustainable competitive advantages: 1) “Have high customer-switching costs. 2) Being the lowest-cost producer in a commodity market. 3) Owning valuable intangible assets, such as patents and trademarks. 4) Benefiting from the network effect.” [the network effect is when something becomes more useful when more people have it. For example, a fax machine has more value when ten thousand people have one than it does when three people have one.] (Smith 38)
  7. “Competitive advantages free you from price-based competition” (Smith 68).
Warren Buffet on competitive advantage: “The key to investing is not assessing how much an industry is going to affect society, or how much it will grow, but rather determining the competitive advantage of any given company and, above all, the durability of that advantage.” (Smith 42)

How to Create Competitive Advantages

  1. Come up with competitive advantages using plain English and quantifiable, objective claims (Smith 10).
  2. There are two ways that competitive advantages come about: cost advantage (can you save you customers money?) and differentiation advantage (added value) (Smith 17).
  3. Competitive advantage must be objective and not subjective (Smith 21).
  4. Competitive advantages must be quantifiable, unclaimed by competitors, and they must also not be cliches (Smith 22).
  5. Value-added items can be competitive advantages if no competitors do it (Smith 55).
  6. If you spend a lot on training for your employees or customers, that is a competitive advantage (Smith 64).
  7. “If you do something that your competitors do, but you talk about it before they do, then for a while it can be a competitive advantage” (Smith 94).
  8. Don’t lie about competitive advantages (duh) (Smith 105).
  9. Review marketing and sales materials, including the company’s homepage. Find subjective claims and turn them into competitive advantages (Smith 112).
  10. Competitive advantages must have meaning, play a role in the buying decision, be quantifiable, be dollarized, and be true (Smith 138).
  11. “Your competitive advantage may lie not in the products or services themselves, but in how you provide them” (Smith 166).

How to Market Your Competitive Advantages

  1. “Your competitive advantage can save your customers money. It’s up to you to show them how” (Smith 46).
  2. “Sometimes you save your clients money without their realizing it. So tell them” (Smith 53).
  3. “It is far more expensive to gain a new customer than to retain a valued one” (Smith 67).
  4. You don’t always need to make huge changes to take on powerful competition. Sometimes you just need to better educate your customers on your competitive advantages (Smith 86).
  5. Ad agencies usually charge in one of three ways: an hourly rate, based on billings (a percentage of what the ad space costs), and based on performance (Smith 87–89).
  6. Competitive positioning: “You really don’t have a competitive advantage, but your customer thinks you do because you are making a valid claim that your competitors have yet to beat” (Smith 114).
  7. Let customers know about internal processes and procedures that ensure they get what they want when they want it (Smith 159).
  8. If needed, educate the customer so that your competitive advantages make sense and are powerful (Smith 165).
  9. Turn competitive advantages into slogans and put those slogans wherever you can (Smith 202–204).
  10. Make your company’s ‘About Us’ page into a ‘Why Us’ page and list your competitive advantages 9Smith 209).
  11. Use testimonials to turn your best customers into salespeople for your company (Smith 213).

How to Research Your Customers, Your Competitors, and Your Industry

  1. Before promoting competitive advantages, ask your customers what they think of them. Find out what the customers think is important and promote those competitive advantages (Smith 20).
  2. When researching customers, make sure you don’t ignore the customers who went to your competitors (Smith 58).
  3. Research your competitors to keep ahead of them in competitive advantages (Smith 97).
  4. Focus on what your customers care about most and they will keep coming back (Smith 119).
  5. Quantify everything possible so that you can maximize your options and evidence for your competitive advantages (Smith 136).
  6. Customer research is more important than market research (Smith 153).
  7. You need to use a 3rd party agency to do customer research (Smith 154).
  8. Select one clear objective per study for customer research (Smith 157).
  9. Doing customer research allows you to work to create new competitive advantages (Smith 180).
  10. Review your competitive advantages, as well as your competitors’, at least once per quarter (Smith 196).
  11. “Business is a chess game. Play it strategically. You need to think two or three moves ahead if you expect to win” (Smith 196).
  12. Create customer advisory boards to have your best customers tell you what is good and bad about your company (Smith 215).

How to Sell (Internally & Externally) with Competitive Advantages

  1. Before promoting competitive advantages, ask your customers what they think of them. Find out what the customers think is important and promote those competitive advantages (Smith 20).
  2. When researching customers, make sure you don’t ignore the customers who went to your competitors (Smith 58).
  3. Research your competitors to keep ahead of them in competitive advantages (Smith 97).
  4. Focus on what your customers care about most and they will keep coming back (Smith 119).
  5. Quantify everything possible so that you can maximize your options and evidence for your competitive advantages (Smith 136).
  6. Customer research is more important than market research (Smith 153).
  7. You need to use a 3rd party agency to do customer research (Smith 154).
  8. Select one clear objective per study for customer research (Smith 157).
  9. Doing customer research allows you to work to create new competitive advantages (Smith 180).
  10. Review your competitive advantages, as well as your competitors’, at least once per quarter (Smith 196).
  11. “Business is a chess game. Play it strategically. You need to think two or three moves ahead if you expect to win” (Smith 196).
  12. Create customer advisory boards to have your best customers tell you what is good and bad about your company (Smith 215).

Types of Competitive Advantages

  1. “Price isn’t everything. When you compete on price, you’re accepting commodity status” (Smith 4).
  2. When competing with giants who have huge purchasing power, don’t compete on price. Instead, adopt new competitive advantages such as terms and guarantees. Be more flexible with your terms than the giants and promote guarantees because few people take advantage of them (Smith 59).
  3. Some examples of competitive advantages are: inventory turns (how fast products sell), materials (dollarize the value of quality), delivery (the speed of delivery), and information (how well you gather, manage, and use information) (Smith 60–62).
  4. More example competitive advantages: convenience, higher quality and style, expert advice and personal service, image, perceived bargain (Smith 78).
  5. “Strengths are important, of course, but they are not differentiators.” Strengths are not always competitive advantages (Smith 93).

I hope my notes are as helpful to you as they are to me. Here’s a link to the book if you’d like to read it too. Jaynie’s book is easily one of the most influential books that I’ve read to improve my marketing abilities.


Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on March 2, 2017. If you enjoyed this article please connect with me on LinkedIn!