Research at the Institute reveals a dozen strategies for increased competitiveness.
Achieving a position of market prominence is undoubtedly the holy grail of business performance. It’s actually a more powerful experience than managing to dominate a market for a period of time. Market dominance is typically an exciting, albeit brief, experience usually demanding a hefty modicum of chance. Market prominence, on the other hand, connotes an imposing position that endures. It isn’t luck. It can’t be achieved by commercializing the latest fad. You don’t get there by simply being in the right place at the right time. It belongs solely to those companies that consistently and repetitively do the right things, and it can be made to last for generations.
I share this conclusion having researched A/E/C market competitiveness at the Institute, an interdisciplinary collaboration of academic, industry, and community leaders. Here, we have been looking at the critical issues facing the industries responsible for designing, constructing, and managing the built environment. We have been interested in the observable fact of market prominence in the A/E/C industry for quite some time, and over the past four years, we have translated our general interest into a specific learning opportunity.
Here are the characteristics we measured to identify market leaders:
- 1 Name recognition. Ask the major participants in any market segment and they tend to repetitively mention the same names.
- 2Expertise recognition. Market leaders are invariably successful at attaching, in the minds of major repetitive buyers, qualities associated with advanced expertise and performance, whether or not the expertise actually exists.
- 3Premium pricing. Buyers honestly believe they’re going to get more value from market leaders and are typically willing to pay for it.
- 4Preferential competitive treatment. In a competitive sales arena, clients often allow market leaders to skip the qualifications stage of the competition and go directly to the short list.
- 5Prestige among employees. Survey professionals in any defined market and ask them about the best places to work. You will find a high correlation between market prominence and desirable work environments.
12 Strategies for Increased Competitiveness
Predicting the future, no matter how much data you have, is a dicey proposition. Nonetheless, Institute’s work in this area would be largely useless if we couldn’t provide insight into how future market leaders are likely to acquire prominence.
Conventional wisdom tells us that yesterday’s leading A/E/C firms achieved their positions by consistently applying three practices:
- 1Aggressive personal networking
- 2Effective competitive sales
- 3Consistently performing as promised
Today’s game is more complex. We believe there are 12 performance characteristics, each requiring its own executable strategy, that will be essential to consistently outperforming the competition.
- 1Inspire with vision. Vision-driven companies attract better employees, function with greater purpose, and are more adept at holding the attention of high-value clients.
- 2Lead with values. Companies that genuinely nurture a culture of well-developed values are more effective in the marketplace.
- 3Focus competitive programs. Distractions are everywhere. We find that the fourth leading cause of failure among ventures less than five years old is a lack of competitiveness focus.
- 4Capture category ownership. Dominating a market category, even temporarily, can be handsomely profitable. Tomorrow’s market leaders will know how to shape new categories and declare ownership.
- 5Use persistent branding. Branding has been studied for years and yet few companies in the A/E/C industry regularly exploit its power.
- 6Create marketing breakthroughs. Tomorrow’s market leaders will develop the capacity to repeatedly win projects for which they are not the most qualified competitor.
- 7Exploit competitive intelligence. The next generation of market leaders will operate with more accurate information about the competitive landscape.
- 8Launch a competitive culture. The responsibility for tracking the competition, searching for new opportunities, and nurturing a competitive advantage must become the quest of every key employee.
- 9Establish customer intimacy. In a highly competitive environment, new market leaders must create techniques that will illuminate the unarticulated needs of high-value customers.
- 10Acquire and nurture high-impact people. Aspiring market leaders must create programs to identify, recruit, and manage people who are worth more than their pay.
- 11Develop a culture of obsessive improvement. Self-congratulatory ventures don’t long survive. The most successful competitors institutionalize the process of constant evaluation and growth.
12Formulate new strategic alliances. In the next several years, differentiation will be hard to achieve within the boundaries of any individual discipline. The next generation will create more efficient project delivery methods by exploiting the power of interdisciplinary collaboration.
This is an ongoing program intended to define the latest strategies proven to establish market prominence.
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