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Monday, October 31, 2011

For those of us who remember the humble beginnings of, we know that Amazon was all about books - and I'm not talking about the digital kind but the printed books you could touch and feel.  In fact, if you were going to order a book online, Amazon was your only option.  Soon thereafter, major retails like Barnes and Noble and Borders added their own online stores to try and stop their rapid decline in market share thanks to Amazon.

Today, Amazon sells everything from replacement grill parts to Halloween costumes.  It's crazy, isn't it?  As a marketer I asked myself how an online book seller could ever become the behemoth we know as Amazon.  Well, the answer is simple - core competency.
A core competency is something you or your business does extremely well, better than anyone else.  At first I thought that Amazon did book sales better than anyone else.  And for a while they did.  They built warehouses, advanced logistics, and marketing that was second to none.  But do you know what they did even better than that? The online customer buying experience.

Once you know your core competency, your options are unlimited.

When thinking about my buying experiences with Amazon over the years, I realized that from day one the buying experience was easy, informational, and thorough.  After buying just a few products from Amazon I was hooked.  Being a purist, I shuttered at the fact that they were selling anything other than books but I can see now they were actually selling a buying experience, not specific products.
It makes perfect sense to me that Amazon has grown into such an amazing online powerhouse.  If you've ever bought from them, you know that the buying experience is nothing short of amazing.  For me, I enjoy ordering via Amazon and getting a box delivered to my front door.

Expand you horizons

Because Amazon was selling a buying experience, it didn't matter what they sold.  From books to lawn chairs, Amazon created a consistent user experience that was, and still is, the best online. innovated new ways to improve the buying experience and has shown no signs of slowing down: ratings, reviews, one-click buying, suggested items, etc.  It's actually quite amazing.

There are many websites and ecommerce operations that have taken a few plays from the Amazon playbook. This is true with any market leader.  However, Amazon continues to innovate and because of their increasingly large market share will likely be the leader for years to come.  Or at least until a disruptive technology comes along that improves the buying experience even more.

Find your core competency

My challenge to you this week is to find your core competency.  What is it?  What is unique about you, your company, your products?  I believe my core competency is around taking complex processes or ideas and making them simple.  That's what led to my "..Made Simple" book series (yes, it's available on where I take complex ideas about; search engine optimization, pay-per-click marketing, article marketing, and even weight loss, and offer simple, practical advice that drives results.

Your core competency can be around a specific tangible item or process.  It can even be about your company culture or user experience.  For example, your restaurant may serve the same food as another restaurant in town but you sell a particular type of experience.  Are you kid friendly?  Do you do desserts better than anyone else?  Do you focus on repeat customers and know each of your patrons personally?
Think about your core competency and then focus on it.  Think about how you can make it better.  By knowing and building on what you do best, you can continue to differentiate yourself and build your business faster, better, and larger, than your closest competitor.



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