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What’s Your Compelling Competitive Advantage?

Today Ryanair announced a $15.6 B order for 175 new version Boeing 737s.  I listened to an interview on CNBC with the very successful Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair.  As he described why he made this purchase.  It all came down to one simple thing: the value of 9 seats.

“Look at the economics of the 737.  It has 189 seats; the A320 has 180 seats.  These 9 seats, when you’re flying 8 times a day, 365 days a year are a compelling competitive advantage for Boeing.”1

This started me thinking about the many companies I’ve talked with who cannot crisply articulate a compelling competitive advantage.  In Boeing’s case for their new plane, it’s a simple mathematical equation.  9 seats X 8 flights/day X 365 days/year X $/seat and that’s the value provided.

Boeing articulated it well.  Ryanair bought it.  Ryanair’s CEO articulated it publically in just two sentences.  What a brilliant, simple, consistent and compelling message.

Here are some questions you should be asking yourself.

  • What’s my company’s compelling value proposition?
  • How crisply can we articulate it?
  • Can we quantify it?
  • Does it provide a real competitive advantage over that our customers want?

If you come up short on the answers to any of those four questions, take a step back, regroup and rethink your value proposition.


1: CNBC Interview aired March 19, 2013