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.
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 long-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 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. Why? 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 so on.
Ways in Which You Can Achieve SCA
There are 3 basic kinds of advantage 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, i.e. 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.
That’s right, 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, as well as leaflets, word of mouth, events, and so on. We’re not saying you can’t use these methods anymore – you can and you should – 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 those methods are considered old-fashioned and are more expensive too, they can be effective. 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.
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 strategy, and seamless 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, helps you retain old ones, and most importantly, 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!
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 utilize digital media including the platforms you use, the strategies you implement, and the frequency of your messages among many other things, determines your success. 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.
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 tries to get in touch with you and has multiple platforms available through which he can do that – phone, email, website, Facebook, Instagram, and so on.
- He chooses one or two and sends in a complaint.
- A customer care representative from your end responds immediately and promises to have the issue resolved.
- 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 till the end. 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:
- Be easily reachable to whoever wants to contact you.
- Have an easy-to-use, top-notch website that has a fast load time, fresh design, and catchy yet simple content among other things.
- Provide useful information that adds value for the customer.
- Lower your response time on all channels – people don’t like waiting in today’s day and age.
- Get customer feedback – how will you retain customers if you are not even aware of their changing requirements?
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 up in 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 do:
- Create catchy content (taglines, slogans, CTAs, etc) for all your social channels.
- Maintain an updated, helpful blog.
- Get authoritative backlinks for your content.
- Work on user-generated content such as reviews on your platforms.
- Don’t re-write content for products that multiple platforms are selling (this is for eCommerce sites for the most part). Add value by posting unique information such as comments by experts, directions of use, etc.
In general, create content that is unique, that adds value, and that is hard to copy.
You will have noticed a trend here. In each point, we have 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?