Ask the Experts

Ask the Experts: To compete, know market and be the best

Guest columnistFebruary 18, 2013 

Bill Warner

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To be competitive, a business should offer a quality product or service that solves a problem for customers, has financial value, is effectively distributed and is different from its competitors. Outstanding customer service is also key. And all of the pieces should be in place.

Bill Warner, executive director of EntreDot (entredot.org), a Cary-based company that focuses on helping entrepreneurs succeed in business, spoke with Shop Talk reporter Virginia Bridges about what it takes to make your business competitive. Here are his edited comments.

Start with the right target: Do a complete market analysis to understand market needs, including buyers and their buying criteria and preferences, and determine which market segments have the most opportunity.

Identify a consumer need: A product or service should directly solve an important customer problem. The need for your product or service has to be financially justified as one of the top-priority issues the customer has to deal with right now.

The features and capabilities of your product or service have to solve a problem and match up to the buyer’s requirements in every way.

Know your value: Be able to easily and decisively communicate the benefit that your product or service will bring to customers. The product or service’s value should be financially justifiable for the consumer and be should be compelling enough to be at the top of their purchasing priority list.

Be the best: Your product or service has to be a “must have,” from your customer’s point of view. “Nice to haves” are not affordable today. Your product or service has to be superior, and you must demonstrate it by comparison to your competitors.

Be available: Know how your customers want to buy the product or service. Its purchase price, usage terms, distribution channel, fulfillment channel, installation assistance, ongoing support and maintenance have to match the customer’s way of doing business.

Satisfy your customer: Offer outstanding quality and customer support. You want repeat business. You want your customers to be a positive reference for potential customers.

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