I have been asked about the underpinning elements of market growth which will set a business apart from the competition and the approach I recommend is as follows:

  • Always work in conjunction with your strategic business plan (SBP)
  • Be aggressive but realistic with your budget without ‘blue-skying’ projections
  • A SBP will identify immediate opportunities for sustainable growth and profit through targeted sales
  • Based on market identification, you can embark on identified capital investment including the creation of an a professional image which gives the business a WOW factor which sets the business apart from competition

CUSTOMER NEEDS

From experience, customer needs encompass a number of key parameters that include but are not limited to:

  • High quality products and services, including distribution that is complete, proven and ready for immediate use
  • Low cost, or cost effective products/services/distribution
  • Industry today is extremely competitive and operates on tight margins which necessitates on-time delivery and all-round supplier efficiency
  • A sound warranty agreement

Performance is not only measured merely by price, but also on quality, warranty, and delivery performance. Importantly, the purchasing decisions of clients and major market influencers are based upon their perception of value and how you as a supplier meets that perception

WHY CUSTOMERS WOULD WANT TO DEAL WITH YOU AND HOW DO YOU DIFFERENTIATE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES FROM COMPETITORS?

Clients will choose to deal with you for a number of reasons, among them:

  • Knowledge of the specific industry needs
  • Capability in innovation, development, manufacture and distribution
  • Speed to market and ability to pro-actively respond to running changes
  • Commitment to excellence of service and knowledge of customer needs
  • commitment to transparency of costing and a willingness to share in identified cost savings/avoidance
  • Commitment to strong supply chain management
  • Emphasis on risk aversion strategies to ensure you have back-up plans

COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

A competitive advantage is continually measured against a number of key criteria, among the:

  • Total quality
  • Value for money pricing
  • Commitment to international standards i.e. 9001, 14001, 18001
  • Customer feedback and complaints
  • On time delivery
  • Profitability Growth

HOW WOULD YOU ATTRACT AND RETAIN CUSTOMERS?

Accept that the image of the company is crucial in selling and setting it apart from competitors. There must be an emphasis on ongoing promotional activities that include:

  • A tailored online direct mail capability to key current and potential customers that brings them up to date on product and process developments
  • A website designed, developed and maintained professionally which evolves as the marketplace evolves
  • Regular meetings with key industry figures and clients
  • A suite of corporate promotional materials designed and maintained professionally
  • Media and publicity campaigns managed professionally
  • A team made up of marketing, sales and public relations professionals meeting regularly to review progress, opportunities and market trends

The importance of profitable market growth should not be underestimated with the team focused on winning business based on the above criteria and definitely not on buying business.