Sat, March 26 2011

In praise of competition - and four ways to compete

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

Let’s face it.  With over one million nonprofits in the US, we have competition.  That’s why we have to do a good job explaining how we’re different from organizations that seem similar.  This isn’t just beneficial to your organization; it’s best for the common good.  Competition spurs us to do better, to work more effectively, and to use our limited resources more wisely.  It avoids duplication of effort and allows donors to focus resources on the best groups to fulfill their goals.  Competitive thinking makes us more successful in our missions, and that improvement in turn makes the world a better place.

Yay competition!

So how do you compete? Here are four dimensions for thinking about differentiation:

1. Strength: What is your strong suit, or what strength can you create? Are you especially good at building relationships with your constituents? Do you have very good services or an innovative approach to tackling your issue?

2. Difference: What makes you unique? Do you have the most stellar reputation in your field? Are you the biggest, or the first to offer a service? Are your services more accessible than those of your competitors? Is your overhead lower than that of other groups?

3. Simplicity: Is your strength or difference a simple, easily grasped concept? At best, you can stand for just one attribute in each audience’s mind, so make that quality clear and memorable.

4. Value to audience: Last, check yourself. Is the quality you’ve chosen something that your audiences actually care about? The competitive advantage you cite is not an advantage if it’s irrelevant or uninteresting to the people you want to reach.

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