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Beware: Customers See Your Competitive Advantage Differently

Posted By PRSmith, Monday 12 October 2015
Updated: Wednesday 10 February 2016

You simply have to see the world through your customers eyes. Customer empathy is a great skill. Not just for tactical marketers but for CEOs searching restlessly for competitive advantage. Urbany & Davis (2007) Competitive Advantage ‘The 3 Circle Model’ is simply brilliant. It can be explained in 3 minutes in the this video or read the notes below.


So here’s the very simple yet enlightening Urbany and Davis 3 circle model. Consider the 3 core concepts of Company, Customers and Competition. This is the Customer Circle…

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It represents the value sought by the customer – the requirements and benefits that they seek. These requirements and benefits may include deeper values. Essentially the Customer Circle represents what the customer wants or what value the customer is seeking.

The second circle is your Company Circle…

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It represents the value customers perceive, or think, you offer to them. This is the way they see it. You have to understand this. The area in the middle within the broken lines (i.e. the overlapping area in the middle) and this is Positive Value. This is the value you/your brand is perceived to deliver to satisfy customer needs. The area on the left  is ‘Non-Value’, which Urbany and Davis describe as ‘the product or service you produce that the customer either doesn’t care about, or perhaps, doesn’t know about.’   The area on the right is called ‘Unmet Need’. Urbany and Davis describe these as ‘customer needs that are not satisfied by your products and services and hence they offer a possible future growth opportunity.’

The third circle (below the other two circles) is called the Competitor Circle…

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The competitor circle is the piece of the jig saw. It soon opens up a whole new way of thinking… The competitor circle represents what value does the customer perceive in your competitor’s offering. It’s a Venn diagram. The overlapping shaded area at the top is ‘the pure definition of competitive advantage’. As Urbany and Davis say, ‘this is the value that you create that matters to customers, but, that is different to competition. This is why people choose us.’ This is part of your Strengths & Weakness Analysis which is part of the Situation Analysis is the first part of your marketing plan (using SOSTAC ® Plan).

So the next big question for you is ‘What’s your competitive advantage?’ This excellent question forces you to begin the process of defining your distinctive competitive advantage. Try asking six different members of your team, you might just get six different answers! You’ve got more work to do with your internal communications!

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