How to Identify and Build Your Competitive Advantage

Author: Kam Kaila, partner and president, IT By Design

Why would a customer choose your MSP over one of your competitors?

If you don’t have a solid answer to that question, WHY NOT?! 

There is so much competition in the market today and every company needs to have a defined “Competitive Advantage”. Simply put, this is your secret sauce, what makes you special. Is it your products? Your services? Your experience? 

Please don’t tell me it’s your low prices, because if “price” is your only differentiator, then you’re nothing but a commodity and that only leads to margin erosion. You don’t want that. And please don’t say that your “outstanding customer service” is your advantage. Why? Because unless you’ve won a J.D. Power customer service award or something that prestigious, then you and any company can claim to have superior customer service. And don’t tell me you are a “boutique” firm. I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that phrase. You need to identify something tangible that sets you apart.

So if I were to ask you, “Why should I buy from you?”, how would you respond?

Identifying a Competitive Advantage

Let’s explore some questions that will help you with that answer and identify your competitive advantage – or what some may call your “point of difference”. Answer these questions truthfully. Some might be tough to answer; others you may have to do some research. But it’ll be worth it.

  • What do you believe are your business’s most critical competitive advantages?
  • What do your employees believe are your MSP’s most critical competitive advantages?
  • What are your competitors’ advantages?

Remember that a competitive advantage is:

  • Objective and not subjective
  • Quantifiable and not arbitrary
  • Not a cliché
  • Backed up with facts (e.g., numbers!)

Creating a Competitive Advantage

Begin by making a list of your actions, products, or services that help your customers “survive and thrive”; that is, makes their work easier and more profitable. This could include a service that others don’t offer, better terms or guarantees, employees certified in specific or niche applications, special solutions that your team created to solve a unique problem for another client, etc.

One warning: Never assume that what you believe to be a competitive advantage is important to the market. Market research isn’t the same as customer research, so ask your customers or approach a customer research firm. You should be gathering research from your existing clientele about what is important to them. It will help you paint a picture of what is important to your customers and prospects.

Now compare your list to that of your competitors and, if you can gather tangible proof that none or few of your competitors can beat your claim, then presto! You have an advantage to tout to the world. But do not fake your proof because should your competitors uncover this, then your credibility is shot. Do your homework and find solid evidence. I know, many entrepreneurs have the mantra “fake it until we make it” but that doesn’t apply here. 

Identifying a strong competitive advantage isn’t going to happen overnight. You must make it clear what it is and how it will benefit customers. It must answer their question: “How will it make me survive and thrive?” Your customers may disconnect from your competitive advantage if it lacks clarity, if you don’t meet the expectations set out in it, or if it simply doesn’t pertain to them.

Promoting your Competitive Advantage

So let’s say that you’ve identified a valid point of difference. Terrific! Now you must tell the world about it. Here are some effective ways to do that:

  • Tell your salesforce – They are your company representatives and will know how and when to inject your competitive advantage into a sales call.
  • Make it part of your branding – If it’s truly unique to your business, then work it into your branding, like in a tagline. 
  • Make it easy to read – If your competitive advantage requires some detail, then consider using bullets rather than paragraphs (just like I’m doing here!).
  • Make it easy to remember – Short and sweet with keywords can make it stick in customers’ minds.
  • Make it relevant – Use the competitive advantage most important to a customer’s needs.
  • Make it resonate – Consider changing your “About Us” page to “Why Us” so that your advantage will stand out.

Having a well-defined competitive advantage will help make it easier for your entire team to confidently promote your company. It will become something of a mantra that will go viral throughout the MSP market, giving customers a reason to select your business over your competitors.

If you would like to learn more about identifying your advantage and receiving a framework, then join us at Build IT LIVE 2022 this July 27-29, 2022, in Jersey City, NJ. Register at www.buildit-live.net. Learning how to identify your competitive advantage will be one of the 44 different tools that we’ll give to our MSP partners. 


This guest blog is courtesy of IT By Design and authored by Kam Kaila, partner and president, IT By Design. Read more IT By Design guest blogs here. Regularly contributed guest blogs are part of ChannelE2E’s sponsorship program.

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