What sets your organization apart from the competition? Why should people choose your product or service over others? What differentiates you? These are the questions you should ask yourself on a regular basis in order to increase your organizational leverage and stay ahead of the competition.

While your products and services may set you apart from others in your industry, it’s the people behind your business that truly differentiate your brand and give you a competitive advantage. In the following article, we will explain what is competitive advantage and why having a sustainable competitive advantage in business is important. We’ll also explain how having a strong employee advocacy program can give you a strong competitive advantage.

What Is Competitive Advantage?

A competitive advantage is a property that an organization can have over its competitors. It is what distinguishes you from the others in your industry in the minds of your customers. Your competitive advantage defines yourself against the standard of others and showcases what makes you perform at a higher level than others in your same market.

Gaining a competitive advantage can be done through many avenues. Traditionally there are three determinants you need to know before you can determine your competitive advantage:

  1. What you produce: Whether it’s a tangible product, a service or a digital good like a SaaS platform, you’ve got to be very clear on what it is you are providing to your customers.
  2. Who is your target market: Who exactly are your customers? Who purchases from you and how can you make them happier? Figuring this out will help you boost demand for your product, which is a propellant for any organizational growth.
  3. Who are your competitors: Who are the similar companies in your industry that are producing or providing a product/service like yours?

Once you know these three determinants, you decide what you can provide your customer that is better than your competition in your target market. Make your competitive advantage well known by having it be reflected in your appearance and in every communication to your customer.

By communicating a greater perceived value to your target market than your competitors can provide, you help boost your company image, increase its’ value and its future earning potential.

What Is Sustainable Competitive Advantage?

Just because an organization is a current leader in the market doesn’t mean it will be in six months or a year. When an organization cannot maintain a favorable position over the long term, it doesn’t have what’s called a “sustainable competitive advantage.”

When thinking about your own competitive advantage, try to think in terms of months and years instead of days and weeks. Sustainability addresses whether or not it is easy for your competitors to catch up to you. What good is your competitive advantage if your competition can catch up to you in a matter of weeks?

If you can build a competitive advantage that is hard to replicate, it’s essential to continue your growth and to nurture it. That is the quintessential definition of a sustainable competitive advantage. Your organization should create clear goals and strategies to sustain its competitive advantage over time.

In addition, your company culture should align with these goals. Be aware that executing all the above can sometimes prove difficult, which is why not every organization sees success.

Utilizing Your Employees to Your Advantage

Your employees should be your biggest fans, the most trusted internal advocates and vocal brand representatives. By fostering direct contact between your employees and your consumers, you can acquire a sustainable competitive advantage. This brings about high market share, customer loyalty, price premium and much more.

The emotional connection formed between a brand and its consumers is something only done through these employee-consumer interactions. Humanize your brand by building relationships with your consumers through your employees. When this is done correctly, you can further nurture and grow your competitive advantage.

For example, GoPro does a fantastic job of this on Twitter. By engaging with their audience on social media, they create real, genuine and lasting relationships with their consumers and make their customers feel like they are contributing to the brand that is GoPro.

When you have employees who are passionate about your brand, you benefit from their external word-of-mouth recommendations and increased consumer engagement, both of which have a direct impact on revenue. If your employees are more engaged, you’re already better off than organizations with employees who are less engaged.

How an Employee Advocacy Program Can Give You an Advantage

Through the implementation of an employee advocacy program, you can distinguish yourself from your competition in various ways. Most importantly you are taking a strategic approach in creating branded encounters between your employees and your customers. This leads to positive brand impressions and helps your customers to better process brand information from individuals that they are more likely to trust.

With an average of 846 social connections, your employees have an exponentially higher social reach than your brand page alone. By leveraging their social networks, you can turn your employees into brand ambassadors through clear and actionable branded communications.

Distributing marketing messages through your employee advocates in a strategic manner also connects your brand to people on social that it would have otherwise missed. Think of your employees’ social networks as a trusted network of social connections that are an untapped audience for your brand.

Your employees should be thought of as one of your most valuable marketing assets. By utilizing them through an advocacy program, you can drastically reduce your marketing costs. This is because the quantity and quality of impressions that you can acquire through your advocates costs significantly less than through any paid social channels.

In addition to increased brand exposure and lower marketing costs, a good advocacy program can greatly enhance your recruiting capabilities as it can increase the reach and effectiveness of your recruiting and organizational efforts.

Employees hired through referral are likely to stay longer and be more engaged than employees hired through traditional means. Having dedicated and engaged employees who are knowledgeable about your product or service is just another way you can increase your competitive advantage

Utilizing your employees’ social networks for marketing, recruiting and social selling helps create a unique sustainable competitive advantage that most other companies don’t have. The power of the emotional connections formed between your consumer and your brand is something that no product launch, service improvement or price reduction could even duplicate. This is exactly why a good employee advocacy program can give you a strong competitive advantage.

One of the easiest ways to activate and engage your employee advocates online in a strategic manner is by utilizing an employee advocacy platform like Bambu. With the power to amplify your brand’s reach, Bambu allows your employees to share curated content across their Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. It removes any barriers for your employees to become advocates by centralizing content into a single platform where sharing and consuming content is easy.

Creating a sustainable competitive advantage should be one of the most important goals in any organization. Without it an organization has limited economic reasons to exist. Through the use of an employee advocacy program, you can give your organization the upper hand when it comes to the areas of marketing, social selling and recruitment–all of which have a direct impact on the long-term success of your organization.