Strategies to maximise your competitive advantage in tough times

A cactus has developed its competitive advantage, in order to grow tall and strong in an arid desert. Its lack of water is akin to the possibility of no customers, in tough trading conditions. So, how does a cactus survive without this basic necessity?
It deploys two strategic methods from which we can learn:

Survival techniques used by cactus to deliver its competitive advantage

First, thorough preparation. It prepares by strategically investing in thorough groundwork before it starts to grow tall. A cactus has an extensive network of roots covering a large area with its root system. The plant can absorb any residual moisture which might be available far from its base. I have written previously about roots, which represent the process of undertaking a thorough Marketing Audit.

Next, protection: A cactus develops a waxy cuticle on its leaves to minimise loss of water through evaporation, as well as growing sharp spines to protect it from humans and animals. It also prepares by storing water in specially adapted cells in its stem. The mix of these methods means that a cactus can thrive by using all the minimal supply of water for itself. It uses its competitive advantage to place its growth ahead of any other plants in harsh conditions. In Marketing, a competitive advantage is highly prized too. Paul Fyfield states, “There is no substitute to long-term, above average profit returns from carefully calculated and properly exploited competitive advantage in the marketplace”. Here are some suggestions for how you can mimic a cactus to allow your business to grow in harsh conditions:

You can prepare to capitalise on your competitive advantage by:
1. Revisiting your Marketing Audit quarterly. For a reminder of what’s required you can revisit a blog in this resilience series. Your competitive advantage should stem from your strengths in your SWOT analysis
2. Building an extensive reach into your business, so that like the cacti’s roots, you can be found by customers wherever they may be. Reach can be delivered by networking, digital, and in-bound marketing solutions.
3. Keeping close to your customers’ needs

You can protect your business’ competitive advantage by:
* Incorporating trademark and branding into your packaging.
* Highlighting unique design features, or specific elements of the core component for service products.
* Ensuring that your website is set up and maintained securely. Password protect any content which represents your intellectual property.
* Keeping customer records. An email list of subscribers is useful for maintaining contact with customers. It equates to the cactus cells which store water.

All these ideas will permit you to retain your competitive advantage during a commercial drought.