I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are other companies out there that offer the same products or services that you do!

Of course, deep-down inside you know that, but do you act that way? What are you doing about it?

A simple fact of life; everybody is in competition with everybody else. This means unless you are better than your competition or at least equal to them you are in a dangerous position and you should probably get out of the business. This may sound harsh, but it is the reality.

I often say that the secret to being successful in business is that there is no secret. You simply have to do a lot of things well. Everything counts. Don’t be lulled into thinking that some things don’t count or are unimportant. They may be to you, but how can you be sure your customers and prospects feel that way? Every moment of truth either adds to the experience or takes away. Everything either helps or hinders. Nothing is neutral.

When you understand this you are beginning to develop the winning edge. In the Olympics, athletes win by millimeters and milliseconds. The same is true in business. Minute differences make all the difference when it comes to winning businesses. You’ll know when you provide the best value because people vote with their wallets.

So how do you improve to the point where your product or service is a winner?

The simplest way is by asking your self a series of questions designed to reveal real value.

  1. What’s selling well right now in my market? This information can be uncovered via search engines, trade journals, magazines, television, top 10 lists, and simply by listening and observing.
  2. What’s missing from these products/services?
  3. How can I improve my existing product or service to make it a winner?

Question 3 becomes a jumping off point for a whole series of questions you can ask yourself to improve your product or service.

  • What can we add to the product? My last notebook computer had an external wireless card. This was a nuisance as it had to be removed for travel. My latest laptop, bought only a few weeks ago, now has wireless capability built in and then on top of that a whole lot of new features that I hadn’t expected.
  • What can we take away from the product? Staying with my laptop, I now have a machine that is several pounds lighter than my previous one. How they achieved that I don’t know, but it certainly makes a difference.
  • Can we change the way people use the product? People are now using exercise balls for office chairs to improve posture.
  • Can we change the market? Once, primarily a business tool, cell phones are now being offered as safety tools for young children.
  • Can we change the price? Is there a way to make buying easier for our clients? Installment plans work, so do unbundled products.
  • Can we bring back something from the past? The retro styling of the Mini Cooper and VW Beetle are perfect examples of this kind of thinking.
  • Can we alter the size? Remember the days when a cell phone was the size of a brick? Now they are tiny little pocket devices.
  • Can we do creative things with colour? My wife went into buy a cell phone the other day and came back with a bright pink one.

Over the next few days, review your product or service against these criteria. Make them into a check list and each time you have a spare moment, spend some time thinking about how to create a winning product or service in your market place.