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Competitive Parity

More amazing art: Balancing on the edge

Strategy books spend a lot of time on developing and defending competitive advantage.

And rightly so. That's how you earn your largest profits and/or growth.

But I also urge you to consider competitive parity*.

If you let your competitors grow their competitive advantages uncontested they will have cash cows they can use to fund or subsidize the core business where you compete. Or they can use their advantage to pull through competing product sales.

If you come close enough to parity in that space, you can blunt their advantage.

Then you get to use YOUR competitive advantage to pull through sales!

It can be a difficult balance to strike. Some thoughts:

  • Don't try to match* every competitor advantage. Which advantages do they have that represent major risks to your business? Those are the ones you need to counter.

  • Achieving parity doesn't mean completely matching features or offerings... you just have to be close enough to stay competitive in areas that present a major risk.

  • Your innovation portfolio should include both offensive and defensive projects.

  • Re-evaluate who you're competing with... or more to the point, who you WILL BE competing with

  • Go beyond what your competition can do and evaluate what they will or won't do. That's a great place to find opportunities to build competitive advantage.

  • Advantage and parity come from much more than the products or services you offer. It also includes your business model, culture, talent, relationships, supply chain, etc.

  • Chasing "me too" parity projects creates a big risk if your offerings don't support your larger organizational value proposition.

- Kev

*Parity isn't as accurate a term as Approximation but it sure rolls off the tongue a lot easier

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