Many companies lack the drive, motivation, and initiative to compete fiercely within their industry. Of course, they would if they could, but where would they even start? Many of them don’t know how to compete with the giants in their industry, and can’t figure out how to excel their business beyond hiring a few more employees and trying to make a name for themselves locally. They know a lot about the product or service they are providing, but little about the business side of things. Everybody dreams about creating Apple or Starbucks, but very few people actually know what goes on beyond making a cool phone or tasty lattes. There’s a simple yet effective approach to beating out the competition and succeeding in the industry.
That approach begins with deciding what position you want to take in the industry. There are two main approaches you can take to position yourself in almost any industry; as a cost leader, or as a quality leader. Cost leaders are like the McDonalds or Dollar General of the industry. Their products definitely aren’t the highest quality, but so many people choose them because they’re cheap and affordable, much more so than most other competitors. This position in an industry usually relies on mass production and economies of scale to be competitive. You’re winning more competition because of your attractive prices. And thankfully for companies deciding to choose this position to compete, there are a lot of people that are looking to take advantage of great deals.
The other side of the coin is the quality leader position. This position involves providing customers with the highest quality product or service compared to the competitors, and winning the business of those looking for superior quality instead of superior prices. This is the route a lot of smaller up and coming businesses tend to take, as it is difficult to compete with the Walmarts and McDonalds in the world. And this position works for many of these small businesses, as many of them grow and thrive as a result of customers who like these higher quality products from these smaller businesses. If you decide to take your business on this route, you will have to compete with other small businesses in the industry that are looking to attract the same customers. Attracting local customers may be easy, but expanding to other regions involves invading competitors’ territories, which can make it difficult to acquire new customers.
These two positions are extreme ends of the spectrum, and most likely your strategy will involve some sort of mixture of the two. It is usually not ideal to offer a low price with such a crappy product that no one will buy it. At the same time, offering the highest quality product at an unreasonable price will win you very few customers. However, though you will probably have to do a mixture, it is important to decide which way you want to lean more towards, whether you want your product/service to be more affordable or higher quality. Once you have made a decision on what strategy you would like to lean towards, it’s time to attack that strategy relentlessly. Immediately start with marketing and advertising campaigns that promote your message and get your product/service positioned in your customers’ minds as either more affordable or higher quality. You will have to look at the demographics and psychographics of those that will respond well to the message you choose and formulate your campaign to reach them.
After you get your product/service position in your customer’s mind, make sure to adjust your product/service to match that position. If you’re going for affordability, cut your costs and bring in cheaper supplies. If you’re going for higher quality, investigate your product/service and find out where you can make quality improvements so that your customers are satisfied. Make sure your product/service matches your message, otherwise you’ll actually see a decline in business.
Now that you have the strategy for your product and the foundation for that strategy, attack it. Attack it like nothing else. Have the goal of owning that corner of the industry, no matter what size company you’re running. Are you looking to be a cost leader in the fast food industry? Don’t let McDonald's intimidate you, put all of your efforts and resources into taking control of that position. Are you looking to make the highest quality smartphone? Sure Apple has control of that corner of the industry, but that shouldn’t keep you from working as hard as you can to take control of that corner of the industry. Attacking your strategy itself may seem intimidating, especially if there’s a lot of change you have to make to your business in order to fit into your new strategy. But many great companies had to undergo some kind of major change in their history, and that is what made them great. If you’re going to be the lion in your industry, attack your strategy and don’t be intimidated by the competition or by your own company itself.
The lion is the king of the jungle. He’s not afraid of other beasts, including the giant elephant, and he’s not afraid to protect his position as king. To be the lion in your industry, to get to the top despite large competitors and protect your company’s dominating position, you need to have a clear strategy that you can attack with all of your might. This is the most powerful way to dominate your industry, and by consistently sticking with your strategy, you will protect your position at the top.