When building a competitive strategy, it’s important to distinguish between a weakness and a…
When building a competitive strategy, it’s important to distinguish between a weakness and a weakness in a competitor’s strength. If your strategy relies on taking advantage of your competitor’s weaknesses, it could be short lived. Once your competitor realizes you are gaining an advantage because of its weaknesses, it will focus on fixing them. It can acquire a company, license something from a third party or update its roadmap to fill the gaps.
A competitor’s strength, on the other hand, is generally not something it wants to change or “fix”:
The challenge for their competitors is to find the weakness in those strengths:
Another well-known example of weakness in a competitor’s strength is the historic battle between Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Barnes and Noble’s strength lies in its customer experience in “brick and mortar” stores. It’s known for personalized service that includes on-site coffee and bagels and comfortable browsing areas. This is Barnes and Noble’s strength for people who want to touch and feel the books. But it is a weakness for busy professionals who don’t want the hassle of going to a store to buy a book.
Amazon identified this market and focused on making the selection and buying process easier for customers who don’t want (or have time) to visit a bookstore. Because they were concerned about the impact to their store business, Barnes and Noble took a long time to offer a web presence. Meanwhile, Amazon became the online leader.
The best way to build a compelling sales strategy for your product is to arm your sales team with talking points that acknowledge a competitor’s strengths and then counter them. That’s the beauty of finding the weakness in a competitor’s strength.
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John Milburn is a Pragmatic Marketing instructor who has “walked the walk” in technology product management. Throughout his 20-plus-year career, he has managed or delivered more than 40 hardware and software products and implemented the Pragmatic Marketing Framework at many companies. A CSPO, his perspective and experiences from companies such as Lane 15 Software, Dell, IBM, Texas Instruments, Exxon, and Vtel add insight and real-world examples to his teaching. This perspective allows John to connect with product managers and executives from companies of all sizes in a broad range of markets. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.