Secure Your Competitive Advantage in 2003

Welcome to 2003! An exciting year for building more profitable relationships with your customers, distributors, suppliers, partners, investors, and employees.

Regardless if you’re a Fortune 100 or dot-com start-up, every business must evaluate its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis). At times, a single tweak in strategy or process can lead to advancements resulting in instant cost savings and gains in profitable revenue.

Take an honest look at last year’s lessons (see my prior columns). Then move forward by participating in this exercise to uncover key actions that may rain healthy profits. Apply new insights to lower risks to market conditions or gain competitive advantages. Innovate or fade away: renew, refresh, and revamp. Carpe diem!

Strategic Analysis

  • Your total addressable market size:

    • Current size of market for your products or services

    • Expected growth rate based on historic or future trends

  • Your company’s market share:

    • Current share (e.g., 2 percent) versus desired share (e.g., 10 percent)

    • Total number of competitive players
    • Dominate market players — percentage allocation
    • Threat of new entrants (low or high barriers to entry)

  • Your company’s target markets:

    • Primary (fast cash) versus secondary (lifetime customer value)

    • Contribution to profitable revenues (short- versus long-term)
    • Known decision makers and influencers
    • Demographic, social, and cultural factors, such as population trends, ethnicity, age distribution, lifestyle trends (e.g., health and fitness), mobility trends, level of education, and change in buying patterns — evolving consumer tastes

  • Your company’s image in targeted markets:

    • Reputation for quality (current versus desired)

    • Reputation for service (current versus desired)
    • Reputation for price (current versus desired)
    • Reputation for innovation (current versus desired)
    • Reputation for ethics (current versus desired)
      — business, social, and environmental

  • Your company’s value proposition per targeted market:

    • Alignment with market demand (problems solved)

    • Advantages of products or services (risk versus reward)
    • Expected economic benefit (cost benefit)
    • Key differentiators (unique qualifications/core competencies)
    • Competitive advantages (perceived or proprietary)

  • Your company’s contact with targeted markets:

    • Domestic versus international

    • Messaging objective:
      • Awareness (attention)

      • Interest
      • Education
      • Trial
      • Conversion
      • Share of wallet (up- or cross-sell)
      • Referral

    • Delivery channels (on- and offline): direct versus constituents (salespeople, partners, or affiliates)

    • Cross-media allocation (percentage TV, print, and Internet)
    • Frequency of contact
    • Cost per interaction
    • Results of interaction
    • Return on investment

Remember, email is the only mass-media channel available that allows you to automate and personalize interactions between your business and constituents. E-mail is more than a newsletter medium. Used properly, it can help you meet almost any business or communication objective. Most media buyers know email is better, faster, and cheaper than any other form of marketing or advertising. If your competitors are not using permission-based (opt-in) email marketing, they soon will be.

I look forward to writing more tactical columns to help those on board make impressive waves by executing on-strategy email programs.

Please forward suggestions for topics you’d like to see covered in the future so we can write more on what you want to read this year. Thanks to you all for continuing to be such active readers.

For more information, questions, comments, or any other feedback, please feel free to drop me a line or two. Cheers!

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