1904 – Creating Competitive Advantage with Jaynie Smith

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks to the CEO & President of Smart Advantage Inc.,Jaynie Smith.

Smith Wide

Jaynie Smith, CEO of Smart Advantage and author of Creating Competitive Advantage, shared her expertise on gaining a competitive edge in today's crowded marketplace. She emphasized that differentiation is not merely about being different but strategically different in ways that matter to customers.

Jaynie's approach, foundational to Smart Advantage, focuses on identifying what a company does better than anyone else. It's about having a clear, measurable value proposition that resonates with the target audience.

Through anecdotes and examples, Jaynie illustrated how businesses often overlook their inherent strengths and fail to communicate them effectively. Her insights provided a clear path for identifying and leveraging these unique attributes.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Importance of creating competitive advantage
  • Strategies for differentiating a business in the market
  • Leveraging unique selling propositions
  • The role of customer value in competitive advantage
  • Identifying and communicating a company's competitive advantage
  • Case studies and examples of successful competitive advantage implementation
  • The impact of competitive advantage on business growth and success
  • The relationship between competitive advantage and customer loyalty
  • The connection between competitive advantage and profitability
  • The future of competitive advantage in the business landscape

About Jaynie Smith

Jaynie L. Smith is a distinguished business consultant and CEO of Smart Advantage, Inc. This consultancy firm focuses on enhancing its clients' sales, marketing, and management strategies, which include mid-sized to Fortune 100 companies. Internationally recognized for her expertise, Jaynie leverages her knowledge to help companies identify and articulate their competitive advantages, thereby boosting their financial performance. Her role as a consultant extends globally, demonstrating her wide-reaching influence in the corporate world.

In addition to her consultancy work, Jaynie Smith is a prolific author and influential speaker. Her book, Creating Competitive Advantage, is particularly noteworthy, having achieved significant success with its 19th printing and securing a place in the top 1% of books sold on She also authored Relevant Selling. Her thought leadership has earned her features in top publications like The New York Times and Entrepreneur, and she has made numerous appearances on television networks such as ABC and MSNBC. Her contributions to the business community are further highlighted by hosting the radio show Mind Your Biz Today, where she engaged with CEOs and business leaders to discuss key industry insights.

About Smart Advantage Inc.:

Smart Advantage, Inc. is a strategic consultancy firm that helps organizations stand out by improving their differentiation strategies. Founded by Jaynie L. Smith, the company has expanded significantly since publishing Smith’s book, Creating Competitive Advantage. This book details the benefits organizations experience when effectively distinguishing themselves from buyers by focusing their messaging and operational efforts on their competitive strengths. Over the years, Smart Advantage has assembled a team of presenters, consultants, and market research experts dedicated to this mission.

Smart Advantage’s unique methodology assists businesses across various industries in identifying potential differentiators, understanding buyer values, aligning organizational efforts with those values, and communicating attributes that buyers prioritize. The firm’s approach is designed to be universally applicable, assisting any organization competing for customers who may not always win. The results of partnering with Smart Advantage are compelling: most of their clients report increased sales or margins, new operational measurements, and improved operational performance. These successes underscore Smart Advantage’s commitment to enhancing its organization’s' present and future positioning.

Tweetable Moments:

02:14 – “If you do not differentiate yourself in today's world, you are painting yourself into a commodity corner, and you will have price as the tiebreaker.”

Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Smart Advantage Inc. at

Check out  Smart Advantage Inc.  on LinkedIn at

Check out Jaynie Smith on LinkedIn at

Check out Jaynie Smith’s books Creating Competitive Advantage and Relevant Selling at

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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there a thoughtful listener. Are you looking for introductions to partners, investors, influencers, and clients? Well, I've had private conversations with over 2000 leaders asking them where their best business comes from. I've got a free video you can watch with no opt in required, where I'll share the exact steps necessary to be 100% inbound in your industry over the next 6 to 8 months, with no spam, no ads, and no sales. What I teach has worked for me for over 15 years and has helped me create eight figures in revenue for my own companies. Just head to up my influence comm and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for great guests. Go to up my influence. Com and click on podcast. I'd love to have you. With us right now it's Jaynie Smith. Jaynie, you are a keynote speaker and the CEO of Smart Advantage. You're found on the web at Smart, and you are also the author of the book, Creating Competitive Advantage.

Josh (00:01:21) - Jaynie, thank you so much for joining us.

Jaynie (00:01:23) - Thanks for having me, Josh, I appreciate it.

Josh (00:01:25) - Yeah. Well, tell us a bit about your work and who you serve. And and we'll certainly be talking about your book today.

Jaynie (00:01:32) - All right. Well, a number of things I like to start out by saying where I began, I, I started out in fortune 100 companies in New York City, and that was my frame of reference. And then I moved to Florida, became a consultant. I'm giving you the short version. And I got introduced to SMS and I had not ever had any experience with them. So while doing that, I was meeting them, meeting CEOs, working with some of them in these smaller companies. I started doing a lot of reading, and I read Jay Conrad Levinson, who said I believe companies should focus solely upon competitive advantage and nothing else, for it is the wisest investment a company can make. So I took that as a challenge and I said, I'm going to test that.

Jaynie (00:02:14) - So the first thing I did was I started asking the CEOs and owners of small, medium sized businesses, hey, what's your number one competitive advantage? And the answer is I got were disheartening. It was the same old garbage. Good quality. Our people exceed your expectations. Innovative trust relationship. And you know, we've now coined that when our clients say that we hold up our our t shirt, blah blah blah, it doesn't differentiate. If you do not differentiate yourself in today's world, you are painting yourself into commodity corner and you will have price as the tiebreaker. And our goal is to get companies out of commodity status and away from price being the tie breaker. So I, I devised this process I started to do with companies over the years, and I will share with you the result of about 25 years of research, because it's stunning and shocking at the same time. Yeah, but first, I just want to tell you a quick example of this. One of the early clients I had was J tech.

Jaynie (00:03:15) - They were the manufacturer of the restaurant pager. You know, you get to the restaurant, here's your pager. Your table will be ready when and early on I was doing this, exercise, putting together this competitive energy exercise. I met J tech. They had a really good product. They brought it to their restaurant. They had created it themselves, the pager. And they had an unintended consequence. People came up to them in the restaurant and said, hey, I got a restaurant. Where did you get this? They said, we just made them in the garage for ourselves. Well, if I give you an order, will you make them for me? Well, this they got two capital investors. They had a booming, booming manufacturing business, and the chain started buying them the big restaurant chains. So one day the CEO says to me, oh, Motorola, the original pager people remember we used to all wear those stupid pagers before phones. If you're too young, you don't even know what I'm talking about.

Jaynie (00:04:11) - Anyway, so the, Motorola was going to compete. I said, you know, I'm just putting together this competitive edge process. Bring your people into the conference room and let's let's see what we come up with. We go through this process that I've devised over the years. We came up with one competitive advantage statement. And this is what I encourage your listeners to think about. Every company has a version of this. Every company has scores of differentiators they're not using. I have evidence of that. We've done over 300 companies. We come up with a minimum of 50 potential differentiators. J tech one statement that kept the £800 gorilla out of their backyard was, of the 50 major restaurant chains in America using pagers, 100% are using our J tech pagers. Completely kept Motorola. I'm giving you the shortened version, but completely kept Motorola out of the market. And they went on to have two massive liquidity events for the investor groups and sold to a gigantic point of sale company for multiples they never dreamed possible.

Jaynie (00:05:14) - That's one story. I have scores and scores of these stories. both of my books have real case studies, real results, and show how businesses did this.

Josh (00:05:25) - You know, this is really interesting. You know, I think about and maybe I'm kind of misremembering, you know, concepts like Blue ocean, you know, and trying to be in a non-competitive status. Right. Which I think is where my brain has been. and I also and maybe you can help me with this, Jaynie, I also don't worry about competition. Right. It's just like, you know, and if someone brings up someone that does something and the kind of the same neighborhood is what we do, I'm like, yeah, that's great. You know, here's what we do, here's what they do. And like, I'm not threatened by that, but maybe you can help me kind of understand what you're talking about a bit better.

Jaynie (00:06:02) - So you don't have to be threatened by it. And my goal is to bring every.

Jaynie (00:06:05) - Reorganisation up a step higher and a step higher, and really expand their top line to protect their margins by not getting into, any kind of price battles. So, let me just give you an example. So, you know, the first thing is we do a workshop, we find scores and differentiators. Companies aren't saying, oh gosh, I could find a bunch of them for you. I guarantee you, you know, they exist. And then our second step for companies of a little bit of size is we do double blind market research. We go to their customers, we go to their prospects. We don't tell them who's commissioned the research. And we ask him, what's your mind criteria? What makes the value proposition for you? How do you decide who to go to? Very simply, and then we come back and we say to the company, look, we have your findings. We have we know we tested 20 buying attributes. And, why don't you tell us company what you think the top three buying attributes are for your customers.

Jaynie (00:07:00) - And I will tell you, here's the stunner. 90% of businesses do not know their customers. Top buying criteria. They don't know what is the tie breaker and therefore they get painted into commodity corner. Worse than that, 85% do not measure the top buying criteria. you know, example, we have this one company that in association they fixed machines and they went through our process. And the number one attribute most valued was first time fix. Make sense. Right. So I said to the audience, all these business owners for these these machines, these repair machines. And I said how many of you have that metric of first time fix? A third of them had the metric. I said, have the third of you have the metric? How many of you use it in sales and say 98.9% first time fix zero. So people get to internally focused. They and they have KPIs, but they don't have what we call Chris. What are the customer relevant indicators? What are the things you talk about that the customer cares about, not the things that you care about? You know, I always tell people, I tell business owners competitive advantage is not what you think you're good at if it's not valued by the customer.

Jaynie (00:08:11) - So that's simple.

Josh (00:08:13) - Yeah, yeah. so if someone wanted to work out Jaynie, they're kind of competitive. And what did you call this, like a statement, right.

Jaynie (00:08:23) - Yeah. We call them competitive statements, but they become the marketing and sales message is what it is. Yeah, we help with the content, you know, in your on your website above the fold, you better have some metrics that matter to the customer. And very few businesses do that and do it well.

Speaker 3 (00:08:38) - what.

Josh (00:08:39) - Would be the elements of, you know, maybe the questions that we ask or how do we get to that place where we can start coming up with that competitive, statement, you know, the competitive advantage statement.

Jaynie (00:08:50) - Well, like I said, we do the double blind research. It can be a little pricey for small companies, but if you're small, you can use SurveyMonkey. You can go to your university, get a market research student and tell them you want to do some attribute testing. Attributes mean what are all the things a customer wants from us on time delivery accuracy, turnaround time, response to complaints, all of those things.

Jaynie (00:09:13) - And then whatever the top 3 to 5 attributes are as they're scored, are the 3 to 5 performance indicators you must have. The operational investment should just go on those three, 3 or 4 things. You don't need to spend a gazillion dollars on a million things, but you do need to focus on the 3 or 4 things most valued by your customer.

Josh (00:09:40) - Yeah. You know, in today's noisy world, too, I think it's more critical than ever to differentiate one's. Oh my God.

Jaynie (00:09:48) - Josh, you know, I just saw a stat the other day. Every day we have the equivalent of 174 newspapers of data coming out. So if you don't get the hook in with 2 or 3 compelling messages, you know they're on to the next one.

Josh (00:10:05) - Yeah. And I would imagine then that, you know, just having that statement, having it on your website, obviously the next step, you know, we want to make sure that we're integrating that into our marketing. But, how might we do that part better implementation of this positioning statement? because, you know, especially if we're looking at, you know, all the content that we create, any guidelines for how to be consistent with that or how to actually put this into action.

Jaynie (00:10:38) - Well, I'm going to make this up because I don't know enough about your business, Josh. But you know, the thing that strikes me? You're right, it's noisy. There's so many podcasts. But what differentiates you? What differentiates you may be your choice of speakers. You invite on, experts you invite on, and I might quantify them and I might quantify in. And I just briefly looked at your website, what is your reach? I think people want to know what that reaches. And if you have X number of listeners on a regular basis or an average of X number of listeners, then more people want to listen. Well, this must be good, because he's got over 100,000 people who listen to his podcasts. Those are the kinds of things that get the hook in, both for people who want to be on your show and people who want to listen to your show. So those are just a few examples. But, you know, if offline you want to call me back, I'll give you some more tips.

Jaynie (00:11:29) - But there's a lot of things you can talk about.

Josh (00:11:32) - Yeah. Jaynie your book Creating a Competitive Advantage. who should be reading this and what's the transformation that you would expect that would happen if someone takes this and puts it into action?

Jaynie (00:11:43) - Well, when the book first came out, the Miami Herald said every entrepreneur and business owner should read this book, and that's who it's for. It's how are you going to set yourself up to differentiate? VP of sales. sales people need to read it so that they get a message that's compelling. And, you know, the book is easy. It's what I call a one airplane ride. Read lots of examples, questions and answers at the end of each chapter to make it easy so you don't have to hire me or Smart Advantage. You can figure it out yourself. And that was the book. Was the book was intended to do. The book's been out for a long time. When it first came out for many years, it was in the top 1% of books on Amazon because it's an easy read and it's an easy how to book.

Jaynie (00:12:25) - So, you know, I encourage folks to just pick it up.

Josh (00:12:29) - certainly. Then your follow up, relevant selling. how is that applicable to today's sales teams?

Jaynie (00:12:37) - Yeah. Relevant selling is don't go in there and spout off what you're proud of. If it's not relevant, go in and spout off what the customer cares about. You know, for example, a lot of people want to talk about we've tested all kinds of things in research, and people want to say, well, you know, we invest X number of hours or dollars into community service. We've tested that over and over again. It's nice, it's good PR, but it's not a buying criteria family business. That's the one that people hate to hear me say. Don't talk about being family owned and operated. Nobody cares. In fact, it's sometimes a negative. Yeah. You know, you got to be careful with that stuff. And those are some of the things we've tested for companies and kind of get them away from it.

Jaynie (00:13:21) - I'll give you one example that comes in high manufacturers and distributors who never think to talk about invoice accuracy. It's scored very high. So there's a lot of surprises that come out of the research.

Josh (00:13:33) - Yeah. so beyond the books. you work with your clients, right? What does that look like?

Jaynie (00:13:42) - Well, we have we have a few consultants here, so if a company calls us up, we come on site, we do an in-house workshop. We tell them to have about 16 people on hand, different functions, not all sales, not all marketing, different functions. And we drill down all day. By the end of the day, we have flip chart paper all over the wall, 5060 potential differentiators. Now they're not all good. Many of them hit the cutting room floor because after the research, we'll find out they're not all relevant. But we have to start with the brainstorming session and there's tons of low hanging fruit. People will say, oh my God, you know, like the JTC story.

Jaynie (00:14:14) - Why aren't we saying that now? The goal is for them to come away with statements that can build confidence and reduce risk in the buying equation. If you build confidence and reduce risk and not let the buying decision be a crapshoot, then you minimize price as an issue. So the first step is the workshop. Second step is the market research. Third step is the communication strategy. What do we do with this now that we've learned it? And what metrics do we have to support how good we are and the things the customers value?

Josh (00:14:44) - Yeah. So if we were to give our listener some homework based on this conversation today and say if there's 1 or 2 things that you do today, make it these two things like what? What would you recommend?

Jaynie (00:14:56) - Well, first thing I say is go back and ask your team, what's our number one competitive advantage and see how many different answers you get. And then you know you got a problem. Because if internally you have no agreement about what your advantage what is the marketplace thing.

Jaynie (00:15:08) - So you need to get everybody on the same page. So the first thing you want to do, like I said, read the book. It'll help you write the statements and then do some level of customer research. You've got to get customer feedback. You cannot do this internally focused. Peter Drucker said 90% of information used in organizations is internally focused and only 10% about the outside. Start looking outside. Start asking, what do you care about most?

Speaker 3 (00:15:36) - man.

Josh (00:15:37) - Jaynie. Jaynie Smith again, founder CEO of Smart Advantage. And your books are on Amazon. They've been on Amazon for decades. Not many, many, many, many, many years. Yeah, yeah. creative, creating competitive advantage and relevant selling. also available at your website, smart anything else that you'd recommend that somebody do based on this? Like, let's say they've come across this episode because they're researching you. what would their next steps be?

Jaynie (00:16:10) - Well, I always say, look at your website, look at your competitors websites.

Jaynie (00:16:16) - Take a obviously take a yellow highlighter, to print out your pages and highlight all the cliches. Get rid of the damn cliches. They're everywhere. You and your competitors. If you if you highlight the cliches, you'll have nothing left. In most cases, make sure you have some compelling value proposition performance above the fold. Most web designers are busy making pretty pictures and scrolling images, but it doesn't. I don't want to look at pictures. I want to know why I should buy from you. Answer the question why should I buy from you and not the competition?

Speaker 3 (00:16:52) - I love it.

Josh (00:16:53) - Jaynie Smith, again, CEO, Smart Advantage, author of the book Creating Competitive Advantage and Relevant Selling Your website, Smart Advantage. Com Jaynie, thank you so much for joining us.

Jaynie (00:17:04) - Thank you Josh. Enjoyed it.

Josh (00:17:11) - Thanks for listening to the Thoughtful Entrepreneur show. If you are a thoughtful business owner or professional who would like to be on this daily program, please visit up my influence. Com and click on podcast.

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