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Article -> Keys to Out-Performing Your Competition

Date Added: June 2005

Today's ever-increasing commoditized market makes it progressively more difficult to sustain or gain a competitive advantage. Higher profits, greater market share and growth are the goals for any organization. To strive for this utopia, organizations should focus intently on their core priorities and be willing to take some risks.

Make competitive advantage your primary target. Hone in on core competencies that differentiate from competitors and exploit these until you have surpassed the opposition. This can be accomplished by utilizing a variety of factors: quick product development; intuitive customer knowledge; and partnerships with customers, channels and suppliers.1

Allow your leadership abilities and competitive spirit to align with your goal of competitive advantage. Maintain and motivate all energy and employee productivity into succeeding. Before proceeding with your strategy, ask:

  • Will this benefit customers?
  • Will this negatively affect competitors?
  • What is the good business reason for doing this?

Once the mentality of the organization is set for ultimate success, it is time to implement objectives. Five objectives that can be exercised are:1

  • Attack competitor's profits: Most companies have certain products or services that comprise a majority of revenues. There are a variety of ways to obtain a piece of the competitor's "critical pie." For example, a company could position itself as the leader in service. With the right marketing plan and excellent service strategy, it should succeed.
  • Replicate what works: Borrow ideas and mold them to your organizational needs. These must be construed to fit the goals of the company, and may involve some adaptation of the original concepts.
  • Mislead the opposition: Deceive the competition. This is a good way to gain time to complete an important project or product, or implement a new process. It can make your competitor nervous and ill prepared for your new launch.
  • Be unyielding: Implement new strategies immediately and rapidly. This approach does not allow competitors time to duplicate the new process. It is easier to attain competitive advantage if the opposition has little time to react.
  • Know when to outsource: It's impossible to have experts in all areas. Industry leaders - those with a competitive advantage - know when to leverage external resources for items across their value chain such as strategy, marketing, or organizational development. The up-front investment can add value to your bottom line.

To attain and sustain a competitive advantage, organizations must be willing to quickly abandon objectives that aren't working and proactively implement new ones. These objectives can be fierce and aggressive, making it uncomfortable for some organizations. This is what separates leaders from followers, and out-performers to bystanders.

1 Stalk, G. and Lachenauer, R. "5 Killer Strategies for Trouncing the Competition." Harvard Business Review. April 2004: 63-71.

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