Category Archives: Marketing

Competitive Advantage is a Moving Target

Smart business owners have their competitive advantage front and centre at all times.

“Competitive advantage” answers the question, “Why will customers buy from you instead of your competitors?” It’s the starting point to positioning your products and services in the mind of your customers, the key to setting yourself apart from other businesses, and critical to the success of any enterprise.

Here are a few competitive advantages and examples of their use in the marketplace.

1.    The First. Being the first to offer goods will be an advantage over other businesses. The downside of this advantage is that it rarely lasts for long, because others will soon get the scent of success and jump in to compete for a piece of the action.

2.    The Best. One way to distinguish your business from the others is to offer products and services of higher quality. Being the best is an enviable place to be, because everyone wants to deal with and be associated with the best.

3.    The Cheapest. The Dollar Store business model has parlayed this advantage into a highly successful chain of establishments. Interestingly, the franchisor’s website claims to be “Canada’s largest franchised dollar store chain and the fastest growing concept in retail.” “Largest” and “fastest growing” are advantages designed to tug at the heart strings of potential franchisees, while the basic business case is built on offering goods for a buck.

4.    The Fastest. Fast food services and drive through lineups are visible evidence of this competitive advantage at work. Everywhere you look something claims to be fastest: fastest car, fastest computer, and fastest weight loss program.

5.    Convenience. Small corner stores in high profile locations turn convenience into profit, while pizza delivery drivers turn it into part-time self-employment. This competitive advantage commands higher margins for making customers lives easier.

6.    Technology. Newer, better or faster technology can lead to savings or a superior experience for customers. Technological advantages can position a business ahead of competitors, at least for a few blinks, until the next miracle blasts its way into the marketplace. Have you tried to get your VCR fixed lately?

7.    Secret Formula. The Coca Cola Company is still a surefire example of leveraging a “secret formula” to massive gain. According to Wikipedia, the business offers “more than 400 brands in over 200 countries or territories and serves 1.6 billion servings each day.”

8.    Exclusivity. An exclusive agreement with a manufacturer will provide a competitive advantage over other retailers. Winning a contract from an established organization, such as a government agency or a larger corporation, can also be a competitive advantage. A pitfall for this business strategy is the tendency to drift into being a one-legged pony, relying on one or two contracts for survival. Unless the owner is diversified, the business can evaporate when the contract ends.

9.    Qualifications. Work experience and education are commonly used to advantage, both in business and when competing for jobs. A handsome set of credentials sweetens the deal for any potential buyer.

Competitive advantages don’t last forever, they evolve. For example, a business that is successful by being first will almost immediately find competitors on its doorstep, vying for a piece of the market. Being first might be an advantage for a while, until someone else offers a more enticing deal to customers, like lower prices, a faster service, or higher quality products.

In business, you don’t have the luxury of creating your competitive advantage and then forgetting about it. Smart business owners continuously innovate to stay at the forefront.

You Want To Get Your Business Name Right

Naming a business can be thrilling and spooky. It’s exciting because naming a business always gives a feeling of getting closer to bringing your fledgling business into the world. But it can also be stressful because the wrong name can cost you.

Today’s environment is such that, even when you do everything right according to the local authorities, you can still be blindsided by a business owner from a far off jurisdiction.

When a local business owner started her housecleaning business a couple of years ago, she did her research, registered her name with the provincial corporate registry, and started building her business. A few months later she was advised by her lawyer that she should stop using her business name because someone else had the trademark pending for all of Canada.

Now, many months later, she has successfully changed her business name, but the cost has been considerable. She has redone her business cards, brochures, vehicle signage, media advertising, and rebuilt her website at

This situation is not unique. With that in mind, here are a few tips for naming a business.

1. Search your name ideas using any of the search engines, such as Google, Bing or Yahoo. Too many hits might mean the name is overused. Be sure to try using different search engines, because they don’t all pull up the same information.

2. Use the built-in search functions at domain registry websites to determine if the domains are available for your preferred business name. A couple of domain search websites are Godaddy and Hover. The search results will tell you whether your name is available in the .com, .net, .org, .biz or .info versions. If your name idea is already taken, some of the registry sites will also list a number of suggestions that are close or related to your name.

3. Keep the name as brief as possible. Throughout the life of your business, you and others will write, type, think or speak your business name many times. If you wish to inspire others to repeat your business name, make it easy for them to do so. The worst names are those that are difficult to pronounce, or they are so long that you need an acronym to shorten them. Brief is better.

4. Search copyrights and trademarks to determine if someone has already secured the name. You can either hire a trademark lawyer to do this or you can do it yourself by visiting the appropriate government agency or website. Use a search engine to search using keywords “trademark” and your location (example, “trademark Canada”) to locate the website. Visit the Canadian Intellectual Property Office website or the United States Trademark and Patent Office website.

5. Ask others for feedback on your business name. How does the name fit the business? What do others think of when they hear the name? Does the name sound right for the image you wish to portray?

6. Once you have chosen your name, register it in the jurisdiction where you intend to operate the business. For example, in British Columbia you will need to register your business with the Corporate Registry.

A great business name will help you avoid costly court disputes or name change exercises, at the same time drawing the right customers to your business. A little due diligence before settling on a business name can save you loads of trouble later. While there are no guarantees, the steps above should help you narrow your focus and choose that magic and hopefully – unique business name.

RiskBuster Launches to Amazon Best Seller List

Prince George, British Columbia (November 11, 2009) – On November 10th in just a few hours Dan Boudreau’s newly published book, RiskBuster, climbed to the Amazon Best Seller list in 3 categories.

Dan Boudreau is smiling today, now having hit the Amazon best seller list with his second book RiskBuster: Start or Grow Any Business, Wherever You Are with Whatever You Have, Right Now! Continue reading RiskBuster Launches to Amazon Best Seller List

Early Morning Book Launch Thoughts

I awoke too early this morning, I’m sure I heard Oprah scratching at my door in an attempt to get her hands on a copy of RiskBuster… yup, definitely time to get up and greet the world!

Of course, reality crashes in around me as soon as I belly up to my laptop. No Oprah, just me and a honker of a low Amazon ranking!

It’s still early here and a few of our partners are getting messages out to their lists. The Amazon ranking has dipped lower than ever to #2,207,753 a few minutes ago. Trying to improve the ranking is like trying to turn a moving train.

It is commonly said (usually by lawyers) that anyone who attempts to defend themselves in court has a fool for a client. Based on that logic, an author attempting to market his own book might be said to be a bit delusional. Nonetheless, people occasionally win their own court cases, and authors can bust through a busy marketplace and speak directly to readers.

Methinks it’s probably never been easier, but it’s still a lot of work. And you don’t do it alone. My many friends are my lifeline today.