As the oil and gas industry mature in Tanzania and East Africa, the competition continues to increase. So,oil and gas buyers have more choices.
Buyers in oil and gas industry have two options:
1.To buy from your company.
2.To buy from your competitors.
To stand out in this competitive industry, you should define your unique competitive advantage.
Competitive advantage is the set of your company’s capabilities that give the reason why buyers should choose your company over the hundreds of others that exist. It is also called distinctive competence or unique selling preposition.
Identifying your distinctive advantages will help you build solid relationship with client, charge good price and attract more business opportunities.
Lack of differentiation among competing products and services in the industry force oil and gas buyer to make purchasing decision based primarily on price.
The buyers in oil and gas industry have tough times evaluating Request for Proposal (RFP) among suppliers who lack the differentiation.
So,they do what they think is easier for them.They evaluate them based on price.
No matter how low you quote your goods and service there will be someone else who has priced their products or services lower than you have.
So if your competitive advantage is lowest price, quality products and services, or delivery time and availability, I can confidently tell you that you are limiting your competitive growth across the industry.
The Biggest Issue
The sad reality is that most technical and professional service companies selling goods and offering services to the oil and gas industry lack (ort hey do not define their) distinctive competence.
When suppliers sell to buyers in the industry, they often focus on features of their products or services rather than the benefit they offer to client.
They look at what their competitors do, and they imitate.There is nothing bad in modeling what is already working. But that makes you look like just another company who competes based on lowest price,quality, reliability and delivery time.
For example, a lot of suppliers try to differentiate on quality or price.
When I read marketing materials or company profiles and brochure of a company in the industry, I discover the following meaningless differentiators:
- “We are a leading provider of quality goods or services in the industry or region.”
- “We offer goods and services in timely manner.”
- “We offer goods and services at competitive prices.”
- “We render our services with high quality and safety of international standards.”
In fact,offering quality goods or delivering them on time is not unique. But that is the best practice of doing business in the oil and gas industry.
Again, delivering the services at safety and international standard is not unique—it’s just the industry requirement.
Even worse, every company promotes her products and service that way in the industry.
Define Your Unique Competitive Advantage
People believe that there is no uniqueness if what you offer is technical or professional services.
Whether you offer maintenance, repair and operation supplies (MRO) or consulting services, or even construction services such design and fabrication,you must have something unique that distinguishes you from the competition in line with what is desired by buyers in the oil and gas industry.
The first step to uncovering your uniqueness is to find out what buyers want and need in the oil and gas sector.Ask questions such as,“why should they buy from me rather than my competitor? Why should I win this contract?” Once you answer those questions, you will find your unique selling proposition (USP).
Here are characteristics of good competitive advantages:
It might offer strong value to the clients/it might be of perceived value to clients.
Competitors can’t easily copy it.
Are you confused? Let’s discuss a way to define your distinctive competence.
You can find your unique competitive advantages in your internal capability. Find out what your capability is in every area of your company operation,from R&D, engineering, production, marketing to distribution.
What area of your company operation are you good at and that clients desire?What are the skills or knowledge that you think can product good result to clients?
Also,craft a marketing message that communicate your distinctive competence and put it in all your marketing materials such as websites, company profile and presentation.
What is unique about your company’s product or services? Why should clients do business with you rather than your next-door competitor? If you can’t answer this question, you are losing huge opportunities in the industry.