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4 Ways to Gain a Competitive Advantage in 2016

Posted by: Alexandra Heseltine - Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Like most decision makers in competitive businesses and organizations, you probably said the following words at least once in 2015:

“If I only had a crystal ball.”

What if we told you that, this year, you can actually have one?

The truth is, with new technologies, especially in the exploding data analytics field, it’s actually possible to predict the future. As of the writing of this article, thousands of companies around the world are gaining a sizable edge over their chief competitors. Here’s how:

Give customers more connectivity.

“By 2020, a few years away, there will be 75 billion connected devices with the average person using 60 connected products,” states Kim Honjo of Sales Force. Connected products will be your car, appliances, security systems, sprinklers or thermostats. Some of these products are already on the market and product options are expected to grow significantly over the coming years. All of the products are managed directly from a smart phone and may include updates by the product manufacturer using Over the Air Programming.

So why are smart phones connecting to so many products? Customers want the convenience of connectivity and are using their smart phone as the device-of-choice to engage with people, brands, services and products.

According to a Pew Research report, Technology Device Ownership: 2105, smart phone usage increased by adults to 68%. For ages 18-29, smart phone usage is 86%, ages 30-39 is 83% and incomes over $75,000 annually 87%. Smart phone owners are tech savvy and want to make real-time decisions from their ever-present smart phone. If your customers are ages 18-39, develop ways for those customers to connect to your product or services using innovative technology.

Mobilize customer service.

Fast, efficient customer services using mobile devices are becoming the norm, effectively “allowing customers to seamlessly move from one conversation to another,” according to WD’s 10 Trends in Customer Care 2015. With smart phone use growing exponentially, best-of-class customer service is happening more and more on mobile devices. Take time to think of out-of-the-box solutions that are beneficial to your customers.

Analyze data.

90% of the world’s data has been generated in the past two years. This data can be used to help you make better business and customer service decisions, create detailed customer profiles, and establish effective marketing strategies. Just ask Harry Brown, Data Partner of Points North Interactive, “Using your own businesses data, you can learn how much a customer is worth, which customers are good candidates for up-selling or cross-selling, and how to retain your best customers. Data can also be used to improve ROI in marketing campaigns and to streamline business processes.”

A recent Kissmetrics article offers 10 Ways Data Mining can Help You Get a Competitive Edge by using data strategically. So, the question is: what can your data do for you?

Gather competitive intelligence.

Competitive Intelligence is a critical step for business planning and development. Study your competitors today and you’ll know where they are going tomorrow. “Use published and unpublished information/data to develop a profile of your competitors”, states Fuld & Company, a leader in Competitive Intelligence. By piecing together important pieces of a competitor’s activities, it’s possible to develop a clear understanding of how their business developed and where they are going over the coming years. Learn about current and future laws that present business opportunities for your industry, and keep you ahead of your competitors.

Statistics show that nearly every type of business will use technology to grow in 2016. How well businesses use data, mobility and resources available to them will determine their competitive advantage this year and beyond.

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 Alexandra Heseltine | Marketing pro and creative director with over 25 years experience working with mid-sized to larger businesses and non-profits with experience in the construction, legal, banking and B2B sectors.

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