Sharpening Your Competitive Edge

By Gwyn Allred, Marketing Specialist

One of the greatest divides in our day and age is between Apple users and Samsung users. Most people are fiercely loyal to one or the other because they believe the features for each product are superior to the other’s. When it comes to smart phones, people argue over aspects like camera quality, storage, and water resistance. How is it possible to have so much variance when you are making the exact same product?

Responding to an RFP is similar. An RFP may require every proposal to be organized in a particular way or address specific concerns the customer has. Yet, every proposal will not be exactly the same. How you propose your solutions to the customer can give your company a competitive edge.

Assess the Competitive Landscape

Once someone picks either Apple or Samsung products, their loyalty is nearly unbreakable. Even if one company releases a fantastic new product, consumers will ignore it because it is not what they prefer. In proposal writing, the customer may already have an incumbent. Additionally, another company may be better positioned than you. When this is the case, what are ways to combat this?

If you know who might be bidding on the same proposal as you, then you can ghost your competition. Ghosting is a proposal writing tactic where you highlight a competitor’s weakness or downplay their strengths without naming them. Samsung’s ad campaign in 2018 is a prime example of highlighting competitor weaknesses because it specifically targeted the lack of features in Apple products and encouraged viewers to “grow up” and get a Samsung phone.

Directing the readers to a competitor’s weakness allows you to demonstrate your company’s strength, giving you the advantage over the competition. This simple proposal-writing technique makes you stand out and creates a compelling competitive edge.

Know What Matters to the Customer

One of the best ways to sharpen your proposal’s competitive edge is by honing in on what matters to the customer. Many proposals focus too much what they can do better than everyone else. This self-indulgent style of writing misses who the proposal is written for and can cost your business. Instead, begin by identifying what matters most to your customer.

Often, the winning proposal is one that addresses the customer’s hot buttons. Hot buttons are issues the customer is concerned or worried about and the objectives they are trying to achieve. Hot button issues can be both obvious and hidden, so an important step prior to writing a proposal is to identify these issues. Once you can identify what matters to the customer, include solutions in your proposal sections.

When you understand a customer’s vision and needs, you are better able to propose clear solutions to those needs. Exploring and addressing hidden or obvious hot buttons will heighten your competitive edge.

Highlight Key Discriminators

Although they are both creating the same product, Apple and Samsung are exceptionally skilled at highlighting the miniscule differences between cell phones that create a big divide in consumers. These differences have become important factors to their consumers, which is why each company adds so much emphasis to them.

Proposal writers employ a similar technique when they use discriminators. Discriminators are features of your solution that differ from competitors’ offers and are important to the customer. Understanding of the customer’s business is one of the most powerful discriminators. When you understand a customer’s vision and needs, you can accentuate how your company can uniquely match them. Identifying and including discriminators is a crucial way to accentuate your competitive advantage.

A Sharpened Perspective

The most effective way to heighten your competitive edge is to focus on everyone but yourself. Address what matters to the customer by identifying hot buttons issues and composing solutions to them in your proposal. Ghost your competition by highlighting any weaknesses they have. Taking the time to gather information about both the customer and your competition gives you the tools you need to write a proposal with an elevated competitive edge.