The fundamental basis to both good marketing and a successful business is competitive advantage. Your product must be different to be better. Your product must step outside of the commodity category and into the custom solution. The legendary marketing guru and professor, Dr. Phillip Kotler, says that “competitive advantage is a company’s ability to perform in one or more ways that competitors cannot or will not match.” *
Because in all industries there are competitors, there will also be websites that showcase and define those competitors. Your competitors will have websites. Some will be better than others, and some will be better than yours. Don’t let that happen. A good website is one of the best ways to clearly communicate what makes your products unique, different, and better. How your website performs relative to your competition should express your competitive advantage. You may have the most unique products around, but if a website visitor finds your competitor’s site before yours, you’re at a disadvantage.
Just like large corporations, small businesses can differentiate their products by form, features, customization, performance quality, durability, reliability, reparability, and style.** If your small business is service oriented, you can set yourself apart through ordering ease, delivery, installation, customer training, customer consulting, and maintenance and repair.
A good website can showcase both product and service differentiators. All of the differentiator characteristics just mentioned are easily communicated on a website. In fact, it’s especially effective if your past and current customers do the talking through videos, testimonials, and reviews of your products and services that are easily accessible on your website.
In short, competitive advantage must be communicated to be an advantage. Few tools do this better than a website, especially a good website. Consequently, if you have great products but a poor website, you’re hiding or eroding your competitive advantages. Make sure your website adds value for your customers and not for your competition. Much of what follows in this book will do just that.
By Stuart Atkins
* Philip Kotler and Kevin Lane Keller, Marketing Management (14th ed.) (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2012), 289.
** Ibid., 329–30.