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Set in a store much like yours, the television commercial caught my eye. The sales associate pauses her pillow fluffing and gazes wistfully out the window at the hardware store across the street. She beelines over at her break and hastily pockets her name tag. “Is that really the price of this lamp?” she asks, dumbfounded. Cut to the parking lot and she’s stowing a large box in her trunk and telling tales, claiming to have bought a chain saw for her husband.

Scene two: two jaw-dropped women gawk over their friend’s gorgeous living room, amazed that it was inspired by a store that sells fence posts and fertilizer.

It is shocking, isn’t it? Ms. Jones doesn’t want to buy her home décor at a hardware store. Their own ads admit it. But apparently she’s willing to build a bookcase out of balsa wood and pick up a lamp on her way down the toilet repair aisle.

The names of your competitors changed a long time ago. Now their tactics are changing. They’ve thrown down the gauntlet, drawn a line in the sand. Are you ready to go head to head?

Forget price. You may or may not be able to compete on price. It’s a recession, for goodness’ sake, and everyone is gaga for great prices. How else can you beat the socks off your competition? Depth and breadth of selection? Quality and durability? Customization? Specialization? Warranty assurances?

What about Personal Experience (PE)? Inspiration? Ideas? Service beyond a self-checkout scanner? Relationships? They can’t touch you here. List every part of your PE that outshines your rivals, and make sure everyone in your organization knows them frontwards and backwards.

Post them in the breakroom and at the copier. Rehearse them in meetings and tout them to Ms. Jones every chance you get. Can you make Ms. Jones proud of the place she purchases? Or do your promises feel like a bunch of fluff?

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