Understand Your Company’s Core Competencies

Last week, the Fire Enterprises, Inc. (FEI) tribe discussed why understanding market need for potential products is a crucial early step in the product development process. This week, the topic around the FEI conference table is why a company’s product development efforts should derive from knowledge of its core competencies. Remember, fire = print.

“What is our company good at?” Lucy asked.

“Making fire?” Zoot suggested. “Lighting hearths?”

“Pyro and Flintstone offer those services as well,” Lucy countered. “What does FEI offer that allows us to remain competitive in the crowded fire marketplace?”

“Lots of runners and fast chariots,” Zoot offered.

“Great! FEI’s ample supply of runners allows us to deliver products to the outer corners of Olympus in less than a day. ‘Competitive turnaround times on fire products for businesses and hearths’ is one core competency.”

“Can any aspect of our business be a core competency?” Marka asked.

“Not quite,” Lucy explained. “A core competency is a specific trait that is central to the way our business works, and will usually fulfill three different criteria:

• “Provides benefits to end users.”

• “Competitors can’t imitate it easily.”

• “Can be leveraged to gain a strategic advantage.”

“Now that we understand what a core competency is, let’s list some of ours,” Lucy said.

“Sterling customer service; durable torches, matches and lighters; unparalleled industry expertise,” Zoot listed off on his fingers.

“Forty years of experience in the fire industry,” Marka offered.

“Wonderful, tribe!” Lucy shouted. “We can use this understanding of our core competencies as a springboard for product strategy development activities. Developing products that are in line with our business strengths will allow us to fully capitalize on market opportunities.”

“I think I get it,” Org said. “We understand FEI’s core competencies and what they mean for product development. What’s next, Lucy?”

T.J. Tedesco is a sales growth, business strategy, marketing and PR consultant operating at the intersection of clear vision, compelling content and effective outreach practices. For nearly two decades, T.J. has been an independent consultant and sales growth team leader. Previously, he sold commercial printing, graphic arts machinery and supplies, and finishing and bindery services. T.J. helps North American companies with content development, Web and print design leadership, nurture marketing programs, sales coaching, sales team alignment and business strategy. Since 1996, T.J. has worked with more than 100 clients on retainer, 80 percent in the graphic arts industry. T.J. is author of "Win Top-of-Mind Positioning," "Playbook for Selling Success in the Graphic Arts Industry," "Fire! How Marketing Got Hot," "Direct Mail Pal" and four more books published by PIA. He can be reached at (301) 404-2244 or tj@tjtedesco.com.
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