Let's Talk Competitive Advantage

Posted Apr 5th, 2014 in Social Media, Strategic Communications, Sales

Let's Talk Competitive AdvantageBusinesses (for profit and not-for-profit) need to have a clear vision of who they are, and what they want to achieve to gain or keep their competitive advantage.

There are many components of a good business plan, but owners need to make sure they don't overlook the importance of a thorough communication strategy to help them reach their goals.  They need to understand who their audience is, how they prefer to communicate and know what opportunities (and tools) are available to get their best return on investment. Take the people in the photograph as an example 
  1. Someone had to tell them why they should run the race in the first place, and where the finish line would be (success)
  2. They had to know the rules of the race - When are they allowed to start running? What would happen if they started running too early?
  3. They had to prepare for the race!  What do they need to know to perform the best that they can for the race?  Do they have the tools the day of the race?  Are they prepared in case something doesn't go the way that it intended?  Did they have opportunity to train?

Getting the right message, to the right people, at the right time = Communication Excellence

Budgets are tight, technology is changing daily, and there is a limited amount of market share. Businesses can’t afford to not to be on top of their communication game so they can respond to changes when needed. Many organizations have struggled with integrating new technology into everyday practice - internal communications, marketing, and/or customer service.

Social Media is a large hurdle for many organizations, irrelevant of size.

They don’t understand social media, so they choose to ignore it.  They don’t want to implement policies, training, and procedures to safeguard their reputation of employees being online, so they just keep doing business as usual.
By ignoring opportunities to change and improve, they lose the opportunity to get direct feedback from their customers, engage their employees, and create conversations with prospective clients that could lead to sales. 

Traditional advertising + Digital advertising

Traditional advertising is expensive and has a limited shelf-life, but it does have value. One thing you can do to integrate the two is to provide your website address and social media profiles on your print advertising.  It will direct your audience to your online profiles, giving them the opportunity to share their experiences with their friends and connections. Yes, you take the risk of a bad review, but turn that lemon into lemonade!  You just received direct feedback that you can pass on to your production team or CEO (or a similar communication process).  Now they can make the changes needed to the product or services your company provides.  Does that not sound like a competitive advantage? Your audience is online whether you are or not, and talking about your product.  This is an opportunity to Listen, respond, improve and grow.  This gives you a competitive advantage, improves your reputation, offers employee satisfaction (by helping out their customers) and improves productivity.  But, yes, there are still some organizations that believe “it worked for us in the past, so we should keep doing it now” .  Where do you think they will be in 20 years? If you don’t have an integrated communication plan tailored for your organizational needs, with the resources (employee, consultant, budget) in place to keep it updated , you are at a serious disadvantage.

Improve your communications and you will

  • Improve relationships with the people that matter the most to the success of your business
  • Improve productivity
  • You will increase revenue opportunities
  • Improve employee satisfaction
  • Gain market research
  • Improved customer experience
  • Better planning and response time because you have the information you need when you need it
  • Better return on your marketing budget

How to get started

Do a communication assessment (gap analysis).  Consult with a professional communication consultant to help develop a strategy that works for you.  They will help you develop a plan to meet your needs and resources. 

Get your employees involved!

Create policies and procedures to help them understand your expectations, and build training time to stay current with technology changes.

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Laura works with the team at Acorn Studio Marketing & Co. to help entrepreneurs and business leaders leverage digital technology and communications best practices to build their brands and businesses.

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