· Your narrative drives your edge.
· You must own the narrative you are telling and tap into your genuine customer base for rapid, sustainable growth in revenue (market segmentation is key here).
· It is essential to define the scope of your narrative and your edge in a way that aligns to your market segment.
An edge is the differentiator that resonates with consumers and allows them to understand what they are buying, why they are buying it from you, and what you are about. It is the advantage your business has that resonates with your customer’s profile and attracts them to you. Consumers are savvier and are looking for businesses that have clearly identifiable advantages over their competitors. This is what we refer to as the edge.
Most businesses do not really understand what their edge is and how to leverage it. They often make the mistake of trying to sell a narrative that is too generalized. Meaning that their narrative can be used by anyone in their space. This results in them missing an opportunity to present themselves in a manner that best leverages their unique, competitive edge. There is nothing wrong with even looking at it as your “baby.” It is something that you have poured countless hours into and made immeasurable sacrifices for. Your narrative can be found by studying why, how and to what extent you did this.
Essentially, your business is a part of the many things that make you, you. You may not be defined by your business, but your business is definitely influenced by you. That is why, no matter the size of the organization, people always look at the senior executives to better understand the values and philosophy of the organization.
You may not realize it, but your company is unique. There is something relatable about your company. In other words, something unique that will clearly set you apart from your competition. This may require some deep analysis, thought, and self-reflection. But it is worth it
Consumers want to know why they should choose you over your competitors. This is achieved by developing your edge, through a narrative, that resonates with your unique customer base.
There are many examples of companies that have leveraged their edge early on and have kept it to maintain their customer base and expand it. For example, Elon Musk, is one entrepreneur who did a great job of selling his edge. Like all startup founders, he had an idea that he believed in, and knew that if he started out small, he could expand his business and his ideas, and have his business grow. His belief, that we can change the way transportation is done, to save the environment is a very compelling one that is genuine, and people are inspired by it.
Elon Musk still runs Tesla with a “startup” mentality, and almost miraculously, his consumers are still pulled by the narrative of the startup, and the scientist who wanted to help the environment. Tesla’s consumers are extremely loyal, and love the startup edge, that is based on the premise of a great, even revolutionary idea, with persistence, making a change. They love the narrative and want to be part of it. In fact, they are even willing to forgive him when he engages in some questionable behavior. This is because his narrative, and that of his company, a ‘promised land’ for tech geniuses and environmentalists is so compelling. The narrative he has developed into his edge has transcended to become Tesla’s edge. To the point that people view Tesla as a company independent of him with that edge. Consumers have adopted this edge for Tesla to the point that they believe anything Tesla does is cutting edge and revolutionary. This has resulted in them blatantly trusting Tesla and as a result, elevating anything Tesla does correctly, and minimizing anything Tesla does wrong. Thus, Tesla’s narrative and edge has resulted in Tesla having astounding loyalty among its consumers.
Elon Musk’s success was leveraged through a need in his environment that he tapped into. That being people’s desire to combat global warming. He found a way, through the production of electronic vehicles, to make this accessible, mainstream, and practical. The true power of his narrative is that he developed a product people needed that can also make them feel like they are also helping the environment. Simply put, he made it possible for people to believe they can protect the environment by purchasing an automobile.
What he has done with creating a narrative and using it to define Tesla’s edge is not an exception to the rule, but in fact, something everyone can do, regardless of what their business is or does. In fact, past issues, or problems, if the right thought and analysis is performed, will not be a hindrance. The main question one must start with is whether you will define your environment, or will you let your environment restrict you.
People are often surprised by how often and much their environment influences them. When we refer to our environment we are talking not only about where we live, but also the people whose opinions influence what we do, why we do it, and how we think. This can be a positive or a negative influence. They key to developing your narrative and finding your edge is that you must identify and eliminate the negative influences from affecting what narrative you want to tell, while at the same time, leveraging the positive influences.
The Hadhad family, a Syrian refugee family that migrated to Canada, is a perfect example. They gained national recognition and acclaim by the Canadian Prime Minister for the courage they had to tell their story and the success they had in opening a chocolate shop in a small town in Nova Scotia. They became famous because of the success of their shop. The father, in Syria, was a chocolate maker. Due to the civil war there, his family and himself were forced to flee. Their environment, and the huge attention placed on the refugee crisis unfolding in Syria, is part of what made their narrative so compelling and successful.
When he opened his store in Canada, he did not change the way he made chocolate. He would explain his background, culture, and process as something he learned from living and learning in Syria. As a result, his edge was he was offering chocolate that was being portrayed to be made in a manner people were not used to seeing and that could not easily be mimicked.
Furthermore, he made his store’s focus not only about the chocolate but what his business wanted to contribute to others. He was very open about the fact that he wanted to expand to hire at least 50 refugees and wanted to be able to send his children to college. This narrative gave him the edge that resonated loudly with the local Canadians, who were so eager to support him. In fact, hundreds drove for hours just to visit his shop, and orders for shipments became an overwhelming success.
Another example involves automobile repair stores. There is a perception that women, are often uncomfortable while getting their cars serviced or repaired because of the male-dominated and “rougher” feel of a lot of autobody shops. Some female mechanics have developed a narrative that their shops are “female friendly,” enticing a large market share of women who are drawn to a more comfortable experience. At face value, many female mechanics are hesitant to pitch themselves this way, as they want to “fit in” to a male dominated industry. Yet, after some consideration about how they can pitch themselves as distinct and unique in a competitive role, there is clear advantage to putting forth their unique added value and bringing in scores of female customers who are more comfortable in an atmosphere that is not so overwhelmingly male-dominated. They have tapped into a market share that has historically, not been perceived to be profitable and managed to thrive, they questioned the prevailing status quo in order to secure a huge, but previously neglected market share.
A final example involves a used bookstore owner that was struggling to keep her small business afloat, because people were switching to E-books. She did not realize that her customers were drawn to her store because of her passion for rescuing and fostering cats. Many consumers liked to pet and play with the cats, and post them all over their social media accounts. This edge was so strong that she was featured in a travel magazine and a popular national news channel. Cat-lovers flocked from all over to adopt the cats in need of rescue, support the business and promote the business on their social media. Her passion is what gave her business the edge to tap into a market segment with a huge potential.
You may not realize what your business “edge” is. But there is something special about our business. If you dig deep enough, or solicit the right advice, you can find it.
And it will accelerate your business’s ROI.
There is something about you, and your team, or business partners that made you start your business, and take the paths that you did in life. You may need to look deep into your own history, or your most defining moments. For example, the Hadhads most likely never expected to find themselves in rural Nova Scotia, a place where they barely spoke the language, in need of livelihood. This situation is what inspired them to start their business, and ultimately what led them to inspire, and resonate with others.
The female trailblazers who became mechanics because of their genuine love of cars and a desire to “make it” in a male-dominated field realized eventually, that they should not be bound by stereotypes in pursuing their passions and careers. This allowed them to take the right risks and shake up the status quo. The result, was others taking them more seriously and granting them loyalty as customers. This allowed them to tap into their appropriate market segment.
Finding your edge, may be a very introspective process, and it will require a lot of thought. But there is something unique and marketable about everyone, and we all love hearing about that. There is something unique about your business and that will resonate with the right consumer base.
Every business has a special edge. There is an edge, a narrative and a way to put a face on the narrative so that it pulls consumers in. Your business, and its owners and founders have a special edge, and an added value that sets it apart. You believed in your business, you believed in your idea enough to make it into an enterprise. By investing the time necessary to go through the process of finding your narrative and edge, you will be one big step closer to engaging with your customers in a manner to accelerate your growth.
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