Get All Access for $5/mo

Gaining a Competitive Advantage What are you doing to get ahead--and stay ahead--of the competition? It all comes down to the benefits you offer.

By Al Lautenslager Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There's a good chance that sometime this month you bought pizza. Think back to why you purchased from that particular restaurant. There was a reason--a very specific reason--whether you realized it or not. Maybe it was the taste, the location, the delivery speed, the price or some other value the restaurant offered you.

We choose one company's product or service over another's because it offers a benefit. This is the company's competitive advantage. Standing out, pushing past the competition and then staying ahead of the competition are all important marketing components of a successful business. To do that, you need to be clear on the unique benefits you offer.

Ask yourself, why do people buy from you? Does it make them feel good? Does it save them money? Does it make them smarter or help them avoid pain?

Then make a list of why customers buy your competitors' products and services. Think about as many competitors and their products and services as you can.

Once these lists are compiled, compare them. Notice what stands out--for you and your competition. Chances are, you're offering a benefit your competition isn't. And in many cases, your competition may be offering a benefit that you aren't.

Your unique benefits are your competitive advantage. The more you have, the more your product or service will be preferred and then purchased. The point is to not be in a "me too" category or offer things that make the prospect say "so what?" to your benefit. You need to create an answer to the "so what?" question and stay out of the "me too" category. So if your benefit list is lacking, try the following tips.

List at least five features of your product or service. Think about what you have that's the biggest, quickest, cheapest, most up-to-date or friendliest. Fill in these blanks to get started:

  1. We have the largest ________________ in the industry.
  2. Our ________________ is the quickest around.
  3. We provide the cheapest ________________ for our customers.
  4. Our _____________ and process is the most up-to-date technologically.
  5. We pride ourselves in having the most user-friendly _______________.

For each of the features listed above, state what it does for the customer. For instance, it may save time, save money, make money, make them healthier, keep inventory low, taste better or be less filling.

Now you need to figure out what problem your product or service solves or what you can offer customers that no one else can. Determine what you can do faster, cheaper or better than the competition. And don't forget to understand what your competitor can solve, offer or do that you can't.

One last thing you can do to forge ahead of the competition is ask customers to identify your true benefits. Ask them why they buy from you. Ask them what complaints they have that may uncover a need the right benefit could satisfy. And ask about the competition and any complaints about them to uncover what your customers want that your competitors aren't providing.

These are just a few methods to gain competitive advantages. Benefits aren't always as obvious as you might think, so dig deep, get creative and involve customers. Then you'll gain a guerrilla competitive advantage.

Al Lautenslager

Author, Speaker, and Consultant

Al Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing expert, bestselling author, highly sought-after speaker, consultant, and entrepreneur. He is the principal of Market For Profits, a Midwestern-based marketing consulting firm; former president and owner of The Ink Well, a direct marketing, printing, and a Certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick


ChatGPT is Becoming More Human-Like. Here's How The Tool is Getting Smarter at Replicating Your Voice, Brand and Personality.

AI can be instrumental in building your brand and boosting awareness, but the right approach is critical. A custom GPT delivers tailored collateral based on your ethos, personality and unique positioning factors.

Business News

Apple Reportedly Isn't Paying OpenAI to Use ChatGPT in iPhones

The next big iPhone update brings ChatGPT directly to Apple devices.

Business News

Is the AI Industry Consolidating? Hugging Face CEO Says More AI Entrepreneurs Are Looking to Be Acquired

Clément Delangue, the CEO of Hugging Face, a $4.5 billion startup, says he gets at least 10 acquisition requests a week and it's "increased quite a lot."

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Side Hustle

'The Work Just Fills My Soul': She Turned Her Creative Side Hustle Into a 6-Figure 'Dream' Business

Kayla Valerio, owner of vivid hair salon Haus of Color, transformed her passion into a lucrative venture.

Business News

Sony Pictures Entertainment Purchases Struggling, Cult-Favorite Movie Theater Chain

Alamo Drafthouse originally emerged from bankruptcy in June 2021.