Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Next President Won’t Make You More Competitive

This isn’t a political blog. But with Wisconsin’s presidential primary coming up Feb. 19, plenty of people—b2b types included—are paying some attention to the issues. And the candidates are, for once, paying some attention to us.

So what’s the top issue from the B2B perspective? This editorial from Saturday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is a decent overview of major concerns from across the state, and it just so happens that “Manufacturing and Trade” gets the first nod. “The jobs have been bleeding away for a while, jobs that pay an average annual wage of $46,000, with benefits. The culprit, depending on whom you're talking to, is global economics, new trade deals and our own inflexibility. The solution is to become more competitive. So how will you help us do that?”

Never mind the passage’s pessimistic tone about the state of manufacturing (that’s fodder for another post). Instead, let’s home in on those last two sentences. We agree that the solution to challenges in the manufacturing sector is to become more competitive. But you’d better not wait to find out how the next president is going to assist you.

Instead, you’ve got to look in the mirror. And look closely. What sets your company apart? A market specialization? Advanced engineering? Strong supply chain partnerships? Now more than ever, you’ve got to identify your competitive advantage and communicate it throughout your target markets. By doing so, you’ll exploit your competitive edge for all it’s worth. And it’s worth a lot—certainly more than any presidential candidate can promise, let alone deliver.

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