Take a quick look at the early rounds of hockey’s Stanley Cup playoffs and you’ll see that there’s no place like home. Teams have looked look champs winning games on their home ice and also-rans losing games when they were visitors.
It may not always be such a conclusive difference, but whether it’s home court, home ice, or home field, playing on your own territory seems to be a lot more comfortable than traveling to an opponent’s venue. Some might say the presence of home town fans is the reason, and it certainly is harder to make a free throw when you’re a visitor forced to shoot against a backdrop of screaming, arm-waving home team fans. But it’s not always the fans. It is more often a matter of familiarity with the peculiarities of a place than with the involvement of spectators.
In golf, for example, where (local pro notwithstanding) there is seldom a home town favorite and fans applaud good play on all sides, a player who is familiar with a course or has played there a number of times definitely has an edge. Even when games, such as the Super Bowl or NCAA playoffs, are played at neutral sites, teams that have been in the particular arena before generally are more successful.
What makes the home turf such an advantage is that the players are comfortable with it, know how the ball bounces off the outfield corners or the puck plays off the boards, and don’t face the kind of uncertainty that can lead to indecision or error.
Enjoying a home field advantage doesn’t just happen in the sports world. When we work in a certain industry, sell to a particular vertical, or cover a specific territory, we can often leverage our familiarity with the nuances of that area or specialty to achieve a greater degree of success. And if we don’t use this advantage to our benefit, we are really short-changing ourselves.
You know your local area, your customers, the processes you use, and the products or services you offer in great depth and detail. And you can and should use that knowledge to help you gain an edge on your competitors.
If your home town has a summer or holiday festival that you know happens at a certain time each year, contact your local officials well in advance about printing the signs, creating the awards, or supplying printed t-shirts.
If you have developed experience and knowledge about wide-format, four-color, or letterpress printing, for example, use your proficiency as the basis of a blog or social media initiative that establishes your position as a go-to expert in those areas.
If you read in the local paper that one of your customers or prospects has just opened a new store, expanded an office, hosted a charitable event, or won an award, contact them, offer your congratulations, and suggest ways in which you could help them with the marketing on their next venture.
And if you don’t feel that you have a home team edge, work on developing one. Learn more about local events and the people in charge of them. Investigate ways to leverage your industry know-how through social media and other outreach strategies.
Perhaps most important of all, get closer to your customers, learn everything you can about what they do and what they want. And remember, if you need to get a fuller picture of your customers’ needs and preferences, an NAPL eKG Competitive Edge Profile is the best available industry tool for doing so.
Why not share ideas about some of the things you have done to develop your home court advantage.