7 Reasons to Focus on Your Core Competencies

Posted December 21st, 2012 by bbsadmin & filed under General Business, Motivation.


1. Focus on what works

Magnifying glassHow would you like to cook up a nice frozen dinner from Colgate (yes, the toothpaste brand)? If you are like many of us, this does not sound like the perfect candlelight dinner. In 1982 Colgate introduced Colgate Kitchen Entrees which did not make it big (MSN Money). The brand is very well known. In fact, you probably receive a travel size tube of Colgate toothpaste after every dentist visit. So why did the product fail? There are a few reasons. One of these reasons, which may be the most obvious, is that the company is a leader in the dental care industry. The company’s core competencies are in the dental industry. Even if they were able to develop competencies in the food industry, it would be difficult to establish credibility in this arena. It is also hard to tweak the brand image. When you think of Colgate, you probably start having dental images pop into your head. It is tough to combine these images with food images as well. In short, the customer development process takes a lot of effort. When you have developed a customer base around a product you must remember that making a new product under in a different arena will require you to start over on the customer development process for the new arena. Unless you are ready to start from scratch in a new playing field, you should focus on the strengths you already have.

2. Competition

When was the last time you recommended a product or service to someone? Think about what you said to that person. It was probably something like this, “I know just the place to find that” or “Doctor Jones is great with children” or “the shrimp at Seafood Sally’s is prepared just right.” The reason for the recommendation often highlights a core competency. It could be a better selection than other, a unique way of production that reduces the selling cost making it cheaper, or it could be a rare skill that allows you to stand out. The core competencies you have are what makes you competitive in the market. Often your target market chooses you over the competition based on these competencies. This is one of the reasons why it is important to know your customers. Do you know why they chose you over the competition? Do you recognize what makes your product or service different from the rest?

3. Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Knowing your key points of difference from the competition should be a selling point. When you create a USP your unique core competencies are the starting point. You must realize what the deeper value is to the consumers based on your competencies. If your unique competency in your industry is a distinctive way of creating a product which reduces time, your unique selling proposition may be something like this, “dinner for five under five minutes.” What is it that you are really giving the customers. Is it experience, price, or exceptional customer service? Whatever it is, dig deep and find out what you are really selling.

4. Pieces

There are some employees that you cannot replace. It is not because they are like everyone else, rather it is the opposite. Perhaps they work harder than anyone else. Maybe their work is flawless or maybe they have some hard to find skill. Successful businesses are not made up of an army of clones of the founder. These businesses are made up of individual pieces which come together to do something greater than each individual piece could do on its own. It is what makes each piece unique that makes it strong. Just like the unreplaceable employee, businesses become unreplaceable employees by adding a unique value to the community.

5. Barriers to switching

I was speaking to a friend the other day. She loves to cook and makes some amazing dishes. There are some brands she will never replace, both cooking gear and food brands. Every now and then she tries a different brand of one thing or another to see how it compares and I hear her very common phrase, “it’s just not the same, it really isn’t.” There are some brands she will switch from depending on the price, but some she will never switch to no matter how the price changes. If you have gone through the customer development process and have found things that others value that make your brand unique, these are what you should focus on. Customers will have to give up some value to switch from your brand to another.

6. Stronger selling point

It is much easier to target a need when it is the most obvious. If you focus on developing your product based on your core competencies, and develop these competencies based on the needs of the customers, it will be easier for your potential customers recognize if it is the right product for them. In my experience it is a handful of things that sell a customer on a product. If you pay attention to commercials you some examples of focusing on core competencies. You will probably remember only a few details about the product after the 25 second ad you watch. You might remember, for example, that the phone has a bigger screen or a better display than the competition.

7. Mission

When your products are built around your core competencies it will be easier for your employees catch the vision of the company. Without this vision of the company, it will be difficult get them to have enthusiasm.

Works Cited

MSN Money. 10 grocery products that flopped. 25 May 2012. 22 December 2012.