So many of us are so busy running our businesses that we forget exactly who we are – what our company stands for and what we provide to our customers. This can lead to some huge business problems, such as branding and reputation problems, as well as not understanding where to spend money to reach our actual customers. Taking a few minutes to think about who you are – in terms of what your customer thinks, can really help you target the right audience with the correct message, saving you both time and money in the process.
Fundamental Entity (FE) – Who Your Customers Think You Are
In marketing terms, a fundamental entity (FE) is who your customers think you are. This is your brand. Many companies have different types of brands and some use more than one brand together. For example, Ford is a brand, but it’s also used in conjunction with many of their car brands, ex. Ford Explorer.
Core Competence – What Are You Good At?
Your core competence is what makes you stand apart from your competitors. It’s not easily imitated and is linked directly to customer benefits. Understanding what your core competence is is important because this helps you differentiate yourself from your competitors and figure out who you are actually competing against.
Strategic Assets vs. Competences vs. Customer Benefit
To help figure out your core competence, it may help to list our all your strategic assets and the related customer benefits. These are assets which help you do business and compete (ex. systems, processes, employees, knowledge, etc). For each strategic asset figure out what benefit it gives to your customers (it’s not strategic if it doesn’t have an associated customer benefit) and then what competence you gain from that asset. It may be that multiple assets fall under one competence. Your core competence will be the one competence which sets you apart from your competitors and allows you to be competitive for the long term.
Seeing Through The Eyes of Your Customers
It’s important to always view your products, services, brand and marketing in the eyes of your customers. They are the ones who purchase your products, after all. Who You Are is who they think you are. Figure out what you can offer in terms of benefits to them. Figure out what sets you apart in terms of benefits you offer that no one else can.
Now you know who you are.
For further reading: Christie Nordhielm talks more about this process in her book, Marketing Management: The Big Picture
(Amazon link). She lays out a very straight-forward and easy-to-understand method for devising and implementing a marketing strategy. I highly recommend her book (guess I should write a review of it, huh?)
(photo by Faithful Chant @ Flickr CC)