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Creating Competitive Advantage by Jaynie Smith

The full title of the book by Jaynie Smith is

Creating Competitive Advantage: Give Customers a Reason to Choose You Over Your Competitors

In my review posted on Amazon.co.uk, I gave it 3 Stars.

Here is my review.

Competitive advantage or benefit statement?

Every now and again I read a book that plenty of other people rave about but I don’t get. This is such a book. Sometimes the writing style just doesn’t click with me. Sometimes it’s the message in a book that’s the problem and that’s what happens here.

First I’ll quibble with the title. The book is more about communicating competitive advantage than creating it.

The big plus I got from the book – and it’s something I’ve been guilty of ignoring sometimes, even though I know better, is to quantify. “We provide excellent service” is fairly meaningless because it’s so generic. It’s a bland cliché that washes over a customer. “We deliver 98.3% of orders by the due delivery date” is much more impressive.

That’s the type of statement that the book calls a competitive advantage but is it true?

It is if competitors offer much less consistency, it’s not if delivery date promises are padded out so much that the delivery lead time is twice that of competitors. Combining “We deliver 98.3% of orders by the due delivery date” with “Our delivery lead times are 52% faster than the industry average” is more impressive and on its way to being the source of a competitive advantage.

Even then, you’re in danger of leaving a statement floating as the equivalent of a feature – you need to drive home the benefit so the customers really understand the consequences. In the delivery example it might be “customers switching to us are able to achieve an average of 27% reduction in inventory, putting $109,000 back in their bank accounts and improving their own delivery based competitive advantage.”

The true competitive advantage in a B2B market is how much money you can save or earn for your customers. If it doesn’t lead to more money in their bank account then what you claim to be a competitive advantage is a mirage.

The author uses plenty of examples from her own clients in the book but it means that it comes across as a promotion for her consultancy services. Perhaps a bit more theory and then case studies in the entrepreneurs’ or CEOs’ words would have made it easier to connect with. I think it’s much nicer if clients do your bragging for you.

Differentiating your business is such an important issue that it may be worth taking a look at this book and making your own mind up. It doesn’t cost much but there is also the time it takes to read to consider.

The book has merits but I’m only giving it three stars.

There are many thousand of business books, you can see the full list of my reviews at Business Books Reviews by Paul Simister (Please click). I've also narrowed these down to a list of the 12 Best Business Books For Business Owners & Entrepreneurs (Please click).

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