Business is booming. Sales are running high. All signs point toward a corporate growth spurt. So is now the moment for you to break into a new marketplace? Maybe, but not without a plan.
Nudging your way into an untapped market can offer plenty of rewards. You can serve more customers. You can bring on more team members. And you can get greater recognition for your brand. With all those rewards come plenty of risks, too. For example, choosing the wrong market can lead to wasted energy, finances, and creativity.
That isn’t to say you shouldn’t try to explore new-to-you marketplaces. You just need to follow a few simple techniques to increase your chances of success.
1. Take marketplace cues from your customers.
Not sure exactly which market will be most receptive to your products or services? Look at the way your customers are using what you offer. That’s what Richard Obousy, CitizenShipper’s founder and CEO, did.
Obousy started his business as a way to get some pocket money during grad school. He used his trunk and back seat to drive items from one place to another for cash. Eventually, he turned this gig into a site where people who needed something shipped could connect with other people who were willing to do the shipping. The concept took off and filled a gap in the delivery market. As a result of customers’ organic use of his site, Obousy positioned CitizenShipper as an innovative shipping industry solution.
It’s worth your effort to find out how your customers view your business. Their insights can open the door to you seeing your company in a different light. This can make it easier for you to pinpoint the perfect marketplace to enter.
2. Try the marketplaces your competition has broken into.
You may resist the idea of being a total copycat and prefer to think of yourself as an innovator. However, you shouldn’t ignore the sectors and industries where your competitors are making strides. By tracking where the competition is doing well, you can find other growth possibilities for your brand.
A simple, fast way to start this process is by leveraging your marketing software to track your competitors’ hottest keywords. Which marketplaces are those keywords pointing toward? For instance, maybe you sell athletic footwear for men, women, and children. Is there a specific market that you aren’t focused on but your competitors are rocking? Pregnant individuals? Weekend warriors over age 50? Nurses and waitresses looking for comfy, stylish shoes?
Just be sure to do your homework when breaking into any market that’s been tried and tested by a competitor. If your competitor isn’t making money, you might not, either. And if lots of competitors have been unable to sway the market, you might be better off growing elsewhere.
3. Become visible in the market you want to own.
Once you have a clear market in mind, you need to start building up your credibility. Not just you personally, either, but your brand as well. Trying to get customers to trust you when you’re an unknown commodity can be tough. If they’ve heard of you or your business—even just in passing—you’ll be ahead of the curve.
A great way to start making your presence known is online. Publish LinkedIn articles on topics devoted to your target marketplace. Stay active in virtual discussions about market-related subjects. Start conversations with others who are well-known in your intended industry. Attend webinars or offer to be a podcast guest. Above all else, use your imagination to find ways to show that you and your brand fit in.
This process will take some time but can pay off because you won’t be a stranger when you launch in the market. You’ll be someone with a strong reputation which will make your entry experience less rocky and more welcoming. Customers may still be hesitant to try your products or services, but they won’t see you as an outsider.
4. Join forces with a partner in the market.
Partnerships can provide you with another way to gain a fast toehold in a new market. Many companies rely on this tactic to introduce them in a lowkey way to their partner’s existing buyers. Consider the case of the relationship between Dunkin’ and Shell. Undeniably, both brands are recognizable. Nevertheless, their joint loyalty rewards program entices Dunkin’ fans to choose Shell and vice versa.
To make the most of your partnership, seek out a relationship that makes sense. Or, get imaginative to find a reason for you and the other company to work together. Who would have thought that a Cheetos and Forever 21 collab would make sense? Nearly four years after its inception, the partnership’s turned out to be a tasty (and profitable) marriage.
One caveat: Vet your potential partner for mission and purpose alignment before signing any agreements. The last thing you want is to have a mismatch that turns off your existing customer base.
Breaking into a new marketplace doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. As long as you’re pragmatic and not rash, you’ll position your company for strategic growth.