Welcome to a brand New Year.

I trust you have had an enjoyable and relaxing holiday break and are looking forward to making this an exceptional year for your business.

In my first marketing column for 2017 I thought it might be helpful to look again at what you could do to develop an unbeatable competitive advantage for your business.

Here are some three ways to develop an unbeatable competitive advantage...

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• You can choose which customers you will sell to.

• You can choose how you are you going to position yourself to your customers

• You can choose how you will add value to customers

Changing just one of these things can be how you create an 'Unbeatable Competitive Advantage' in your business.

(And give your sales and profits a huge boost.)

Let's take a quick look at these three options.

One: You can choose which customers you will sell your products and services to
Now many people don't give a lot of thought to choosing which customers they sell to.

However this one choice can have a huge impact on your results.

Choosing who you will sell to can be as simple as asking yourself the following question: "Who are my best customers and what do they have in common"?

Example:

A large franchise company began looking at the characteristics of their most successful franchisees, and discovered (to their surprise), that a large number of them had short haircuts.

Now that was pretty unusual; so they decided to dig a little bit deeper. Further research revealed that the majority of these franchises (with short haircuts) came from an armed services background like the air force or army.

The reason these franchisees were so successful was because they were used to following orders from their armed services background. So they tended to do everything they were told to do in their franchise manual and got excellent results when they did this.

The franchise company began to focus a lot more effort on getting people from the armed services into their franchise business and their sales went through the roof.

Two: You can choose how you position yourself to your customers
I recommend strongly that in any business you position yourself as an expert in your field.

Example:

Many years ago I worked in a sales role for a company that designed and built business websites. I was brand new in the field at the time and knew next to nothing about websites. So I decided to position myself as an expert in the field as a way of making more sales. I sat down with the owners of this company and interviewed them about the keys to success with a business website.

I asked them questions like:

• What should you do if you wanted to have a profitable website?
• What costly mistakes should you avoid?
• What were resources that would be useful to read about business websites?
• And so on.

Well within a few days of doing this, I found I now knew a lot about how to create a profitable website.

I then put together a 45 minute free seminar which I called
'The six keys to creating a profitable website'.

We then invited a number of business people to this seminar (which I presented.)

Because I still had almost no technical knowledge about websites I kept my seminar very simple and used plain English. To my surprise the seminars were extremely well received and people found them very useful. (Even people who were very experienced with business websites and had used them for years.)

I ended up presenting this seminar a number of times and several of these were to very large audiences. And the best thing was that because I had positioned myself as an expert, people automatically assumed I was one. We also made a huge amount of sales to the people who attended these seminars.

Three: You can choose how you will 'add value' to customers

This one concept gives you unlimited possibilities.

When you use added value with clients you can pick something that interests you and may have nothing to do with your product or service.

Warehouse Example:

In the book "How Champions Sell" is the story of Steve who was an industrial sales

representative and sold hardware, nuts and bolts to industrial accounts.

Steve dealt mainly with buyers in purchasing departments. His products were considered a commodity and he was under constant price pressure.

Now Steve was an engineer, and became interested in warehouse operations.

During some extended sales calls, and during some of his weekends, he worked with the warehouse manager of one of his accounts. Together they upgraded the accounts warehouse management system. This saved the customer hundreds of thousands of dollars. His customer was very grateful and gave Steve all his hardware business with little concern for price (as Steve was generally price-competitive.)

The owner of this company and the warehouse manager referred Steve to several other companies in the area. Steve helped install the cost-saving warehouse system at some of these companies.

He picked up their hardware business, again with little concern about pricing. Soon Steve was calling on the owners of companies (not buyers) all over his territory.

He offered the added value service of improved warehouse operations. This was accompanied of course by the purchase of his hardware line.

Steve became the most successful sales person in his company.

Steve's added value service of helping his clients improve the efficiency of their warehouse operations is a perfect example of adding value to his customers.

The good news is that there are literally dozens of different things that you can do to develop an unbeatable competitive advantage for your business.

I recommend you spend some time this month thinking about how you could create an unbeatable competitive advantage for your own business.

"If you don't have a competitive advantage, don't compete." - Jack Welch

Action Exercise:

Take 15 minutes and write down five things you could do todevelop an unbeatable competitive advantage for your business.

Pick one of these things and take action on it.