Understanding Sustainable Competitive Advantage and the Role of Digital Media in Achieving It
One of the most important things to you, as a business, is to have an edge over your competitors.
Isn’t that true?
It has to be because it’s the only way you will succeed in today’s highly competitive environment!
But how can you do that?
By creating a sustainable competitive advantage (SCA) that will keep your customers loyal to your brand while also attracting even more consumers towards your services and products.
And do you want to know the best part?
It’s really easy to do! You can use digital media to help build a competitive advantage over your rivals – and even your friends – in the industry and we’re going to show you exactly how.
The role of digital marketing in all this cannot be denied – and that is why we’ll help you leverage the power of top-notch digital marketing solutions.
This is how:
- Diving Into the Concept of Sustainable Competitive Advantage
- So, How Does This Help You?
- Ways in Which You Can Achieve SCA
- Achieving a Sustainable Competitive Advantage – The Role of Digital Media
- 1. Build and Maintain a Great Brand Image/Reputation using Digital Media
- 2. Choose Your Digital Platforms Wisely
- 3. Focus on User Experience
- 4. Create Killer Content for All Your Channels
- 5. Monitor Your Digital Marketing Efforts
- Summing Up…
But before that.
Let’s take a detailed look at what sustainable competitive advantage really means to understand it better.
Diving Into the Concept of Sustainable Competitive Advantage
A sustainable competitive advantage is any element of your business that puts you above your rivals not just immediately, but for the longer term.
In other words, it is a marketing technique, a product feature or added value among many other things, that your consumers are not likely to find anywhere else.
Not now and not in a very long time. And that is what makes it sustainable.
Let’s look at this with an example:
You own a factory that manufactures chocolate-filled cookies.
When you start to struggle to keep consumers loyal to your brand because of the sheer number of competitors in the market, you decide to double the amount of chocolate in the cookies.
Are people going to prefer your cookies over all others suddenly? They probably are.
But is it sustainable? Not likely.
Because other companies can easily replicate what you did to achieve the advantage that you gained.
Now let’s look at the same scenario but one in which you take a different approach to become the talk of the town.
You increase the amount of chocolate in the cookies but you also promise the consumer a new, enhanced burst of flavor that you achieved after months and months of experimenting with secret ingredients and combinations only you will ever know.
Now you’re talking!
Because you have introduced a flavor in the market that your competitors will not be able to match or copy (and marketed it right, especially on digital media channels) – or at least not for a very long while, by which time you will have worked on enhancing it even further.
So, How Does This Help You?
Well, that’s quite obvious – people will keep coming back to you for the cookies. Or for whatever service or product it is that you provide.
In particular, you will get to enjoy:
- Increased sales
- High customer retention
- New consumer influx
- Better staff retention
- Enhanced brand image
- And much more!
Ways in Which You Can Achieve SCA
There are 3 basic kinds of advantages you can have over your competitors in the long run:
- Cost advantage – Your product or service is available at a lower price.
- Value advantage – You provide greater value/benefit to your customers.
- Focus advantage – You focus on a particular niche – a specific target audience and their needs – in the best way.
While there are a number of things you can do to outrun your competitors, the most important ones can be summarized in these points:
- Offer a good product at a better price than competitors.
- Give your consumers benefits and value that is unmatched in the industry.
- Build strategic assets.
- Build a brand image that persists through thick and thin.
In this blog post, we are going to focus on something that has a major impact on whether or not you gain an advantage over other businesses in your niche.
That, right – the ability to connect with people and deliver your message to them in a unique, compelling way that makes them want to give your services or products a shot.
And you can do this by creating a top-notch digital marketing and advertising strategy. Read on to find out more!
Achieving a Sustainable Competitive Advantage – The Role of Digital Media
Traditionally, you would focus on getting your message across through advertisements in the form of newspaper, T.V., and radio ads.
Heck, you’d even choose leaflets, word of mouth, events, and so on.
We’re not saying you can’t use these methods anymore – you can and you should where necessary – but you know as well as we do that there is a new platform in town that you need to focus on.
And we’re going to show you just how you can use it to your advantage.
As we mentioned above, you do not need to abandon the good old T.V. ad or the occasional leaflet entirely. Although these methods are considered old-fashioned and are more expensive, they can be effective too.
What you do need, however, is to realize that there is a shift taking place – a shift in which the audience you are targeting is moving towards digital platforms and that is where you need to be.
When you talk about digital marketing, Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and many other platforms come to mind.
You’re on the right track, except there are so many more platforms you can experiment with. And so many more techniques you can play around with.
We’ll share some of them with you in this blog post!
Here are some things you can do to use this to your advantage and gain a competitive edge you won’t likely lose for a long time.
1. Build and Maintain a Great Brand Image/Reputation using Digital Media
This is not something that can be done in a week, a month or even a year in some cases.
It is an ongoing process that requires foresight, a top-notch digital marketing solution, and seamless strategy implementation.
Let’s look at it like this:
Imagine you are running a clothing brand that guarantees unmatchable quality and designs at a reasonable price.
You pair your exceptional product line with a marketing strategy that brings you new customers and helps you retain old ones. Most importantly, it keeps them all loyal to your brand.
In other words, you build a brand image using various techniques and work on maintaining it, partly by complementing it with the value you offer – amazing quality at a good price.
A year or two down the line, a competitor enters the industry and offers similar goods at a cheaper price.
That is when the effort you had been putting in for the past year or so – the effort that seemed to bear no fruit – pays off.
If you were successful in creating an exceptional image and reputation for yourself, your customers will not go anywhere – not today, not five years down the line.
What does this do?
It helps you ‘maintain an advantage’ over the competitors for years to come!
So it’s sorted – you need to build a strong brand image. But how exactly can do that? Is it a job you need to outsource to digital marketing specialists or can you give it a shot on your own?
Well, you can take either road, but we want to show you that you can do it yourself. Here’s how:
a. Determine Who You’re Talking to and Why
A life insurance company using teenage slang in their branding messages.
A tobacco company using flowery language.
A diaper company sharing memes (in bad taste) about babies.
Something seems off, right?
That’s because it is.
It is essential for you, as a brand to know exactly who your audience is, and how can get the message across to them. The way you talk to an elderly person, a smoker, and a new mother is COMPLETELY different.
In addition, the goals you want to achieve from your digital marketing efforts should be completely clear.
Knowing who you’re speaking to and what kind of action you want them to take helps you improve the way you draft your messages. This, in turn, helps your brand image and reputation.
b. Specify Your Brand’s Tone
Every brand has a tone – the way in which they put across their message and communicate with their consumers.
But why is your brand’s voice important?
Because, if done right, it should be instantly recognizable by your customers. And not just recognized. It should be loved and cherished by your consumers.
To the point where no matter what a competitor has to say, they want to hear from you.
c. Engage with Your Audience through Meaningful Content and Interaction
You need to be seen as an authority in your niche – you know what you’re doing.
You also need to be seen as a problem-solver – you have a desire to share your knowledge and help other people, especially your consumers.
This is how you need people to see you if you are going to create and maintain a strong brand image. And, in turn, have a sustainable competitive advantage.
And here are just some ways in which you can do it:
- Create meaningful content in the form of blog posts, videos, etc.
- Interact with your consumers on social media.
- Have Live social media sessions and answer the audience’s questions.
- Maintain a social media group where people can interact with each other, as well as you.
d. Get Online Reviews
What is the first thing you do when you want to buy a product or opt for a service someone told you about?
You turn to Google to find out more about it.
You look at the reviews people have left for that particular product or service. That’s what people do when they come across YOUR brand too.
Which is why it is essential for you to make reputation management efforts and get online reviews.
You can do this simply by asking customers for reviews or even by offering incentives (such as a discount code) in return!
2. Choose Your Digital Platforms Wisely
- 95% of people from the ages of 18 to 34 in the U.S. follow brands on social media, according to MarketingSherpa.
- 99% of consumers will check their inbox for new emails on a daily basis, according to DMA Insights.
- Facebook had a role to play in more than half of the buying decisions (whether online or offline) of consumers, according to a study conducted by DigitasLBi Connected Commission.
We can go on and on with the statistics but you get the point. Digital media platforms are huge when it comes to building a loyal fan base today. But what does this have to do with SCA?
Well, the way in which you use digital media, including the platforms you use, the strategies you implement, and the frequency of your messages among many other things, determines how you’ll do.
In conducting detailed research, choosing effective channels for your particular target audience, crafting relevant messages they can relate to, and more, you build a great brand image. And we’ve already discussed how that benefits you.
But that’s not all!
We think social media is extra special and here’s why: Not only do you get your message across in a very effective way, you can also build a community online, often a very close-knit one.
What does this do?
Everyone likes being part of a group – a community. If the brand they are choosing offers them that in addition to a great product or service, they will stick by it till the end. And that is just what you are trying to achieve.
But here’s the thing: there is no such thing as auto digital marketing. Nor is there a one-size-fits-all formula.
You need to strategize wisely. Ask yourself questions like:
- What is the age group of my audience? What social media platforms are they likely to use?
- Can my consumers keep up with ever-changing trends, the likes of which Tiktok and Snapchat offer?
- Can I convey the message through image-based storytelling (Instagram) or do I need a space to create detailed messages (Facebook)?
You don’t need to be a digital marketing strategist to answer these questions. Understand your audience, your goals, and your message, and you’re already halfway there.
Then, research different social networks, the kind of demographic they attract, and whether the content format aligns with your brand voice and image.
Put the two together and you have your answer.
Our advice: don’t stick to just one platform – mix it up a bit!
3. Focus on User Experience
The experience a user has with your brand today plays a key role in the kind of relationship they will have with you in the future.
Consider this sequence of events:
- You sell a shoe to a man and he is not happy with the quality.
- He gets in touch through his choice of platform, whether it is phone, email, or Instagram among others (because you’re everywhere)!
- A customer care representative responds immediately and the issue is resolved.
What do you think you have achieved through this process? That’s right, you have gained a customer who will be loyal to your brand until the very end. And that is the kind of sustainable competitive advantage you need.
But ensuring top-notch, efficient customer service is one of many things you can do.
Here are some other steps you can take to enhance user experience using digital media:
a. Be Easily Reachable
Why was the issue resolved so quickly in the example we just gave? Because the consumer was able to get in touch with a customer service representative almost immediately.
You don’t want your customers to spend 15 minutes on the internet before they find a means to contact you.
You need to be reachable with a single click.
And that becomes quite easy through social media channels – granted you have people active on them during business hours, no matter what.
b. Have a User-Friendly Website
If you’re running an e-commerce business, that is a given – you can’t compromise on your consumers’ web experience.
But having a great website is essential for a non-e-commerce business too.
Someone who lands on your site to get some information or read a blog post shouldn’t have a bad experience.
c. Add Value through Useful Information
We have already talked about this above in a fair amount of detail and we will in the next point too.
But the crux of it is this: the content you share should offer some sort of benefit to the people who consume it.
Otherwise you’re just wasting their time and they will remember that.
d. Reduce Your Response Time
We live in an age of instant results.
People don’t like waiting for anything anymore. And this is all the more true when they are getting in touch with a brand with a query or a complaint.
For people to have a good experience with your brand and become loyal, long-term customers, you need to make sure you don’t keep them waiting. Especially not on social media!
e. Get Customer Feedback
This is one of the best ways to build a sustainable competitive advantage for two reasons.
Firstly, how can you expect to retain customers if you are not even aware of their changing requirements?
If you don’t keep up with what they need, they will find it somewhere else, mark our words.
Getting feedback highlights areas where you lack and identifies new opportunities that have a high chance of succeeding.
Secondly, asking your customers for feedback shows them that you genuinely care about what they want. This is a foolproof way of building a loyal consumer base, as long as you follow up with the plan and not ignore their suggestions.
4. Create Killer Content for All Your Channels
You need amazing content to create a strong brand image.
You also need it to market yourself successfully on social media.
We’ve discussed these things above but we’re going to dedicate a whole other section to content because it is THAT important.
Every now and again, a company comes up with an advertising campaign that takes the world by storm. Take the Just Do It campaign launched by Nike in the ‘80s, for example. Not only did their sales skyrocket following the campaign, but people have also associated the words ‘Just Do It’ with the brand since.
And vice versa – they associate the brand with the essence of the words, that is to just go out and achieve your goals!
That is the power of good content – it lets you build an image, a narrative that people remember for years to come.
This automatically gives you an edge over all your competitors as you are the first to pop into their minds when they think of products or services in your industry!
But how do you do it?
There is no one way of mastering the art of powerful content. Here are some of the things you can include in your content marketing strategy:
- Create catchy content (taglines, slogans, CTAs, etc) for all your social channels. This is content that grabs attention in an instant and retains it because it is worth remembering.
- Maintain an updated, helpful blog. You want to be seen as an expert in the niche while also sharing information that adds value to the lives of your audience.
- Come up with interactive posts for social media. This could be anything, from posts asking questions to playing a game or asking for an opinion.
- Always be relevant. You may think this is an obvious consideration but it is easy to drift away from what the audience is actually looking for.
- Produce share-worthy content. You want people other than your immediate audience to see your content – and this will happen when that immediate audience shares the content with their circles.
- Get authoritative backlinks for your content. This establishes your credibility because a trustworthy site deems your content exceptional enough to link back to it.
- Work on user-generated content (UGC) such as reviews on your platforms. Platforms like Instagram are great when it comes to UGC as they allow for the easy sharing of content shared by consumers.
- Don’t re-write the same old content for products that multiple platforms are selling (this is for e-commerce sites for the most part). Add value by posting unique information such as comments by experts, directions for use, etc.
In general, you need to create content that is unique, that adds value, and that is hard to copy (remember how we talked about how you can only have a sustainable competitive advantage if your competitors can’t copy your genius?).
Here are some great resources to get started as far as content creation for your digital media efforts is concerned:
- Powerful Content Marketing KPIs to Make Your Game a Grand Slam
- 9 Tips for an Effective Content Marketing Plan
- 17+ Insanely Actionable Content Marketing Hacks
- Content Marketing Key Takeaways from 15 Experts
- 9 Content Writing Topic Ideas That Will Never Fail You
- The Ultimate List of Content Marketing Tools and Resources
- 6 Steps to Improve Your Existing Content Marketing Strategy
Before we wrap up, we’d like to add something without which all the rest of your efforts are futile.
5. Monitor Your Digital Marketing Efforts
You don’t need a Masters in digital marketing to know that your efforts are worthless if you are not tracking the progress you are making.
Even if your efforts seem to be taking you in the right direction, you need digital marketing analytics to give you a clearer picture.
Your digital marketing solution will differ from most other businesses in one way or the other but there is a flow you just can’t ignore.
Start off with a digital marketing audit to figure out where you stand currently.
Based on what you learn, create a strategy that will address these findings and fulfil your goals as best as possible.
Implement the strategy.
Review the strategy regularly, not just vaguely, but with a detailed digital marketing report in front of you. This way you will know which of your techniques got you results and where you need more work.
Don’t think can manage that on your own?
You will have noticed a trend here. In each of the points we discussed, we talked about doing things differently and in a way that is better than all your competitors.
Why are we pointing this out?
Because that is the key! If you’re doing what everyone else is doing, you will become just another company in the niche, eventually forgotten and neglected, unable to tap into its full potential.
But take the road less traveled and you will be able to stand out from the rest and gain an edge no one will be able to match or replicate for years to come.
So, which strategy will you go for? Let us know in the comments below!