Crowded markets are, by definition, hard to stand out in. If you’re one of 100 companies offering the same services in your market, you can’t do the same things that everyone else is doing. You need to make a splash!
Make Your Biz Stand Out
The beauty of the internet is that it’s torn down any and all barriers to entry into most industries. It used to be that you needed lots of cash/investors, business expertise, suppliers, and a deep prospect list to launch a successful business. Today, you can use a drag-and-drop website builder, a website to source products from, and a social media presence and build a seven-figure company with minimal experience. (If it sounds like we’re oversimplifying things, it’s because we are. But you get the idea.)
But here’s the deal: these low barriers to entry also come at a price. If you’re able to easily start a business, so is everyone else. And it doesn’t matter if you’re selling spatulas or providing accounting services, the competition is fiercer than it’s ever been.
Anyone can start a business and go toe-to-toe with you. The question is, what are you doing to make your business stand out? What’s the differentiating factor between your brand and their brand?
Here are a few big-picture ideas that you can adapt to work for your startup or small business:
Double-Down on the Competition
If you’re offering the exact same product or service as the competition, how are you going to stand out. For most businesses, it’s price. They lower their price, thin out their margins, and then hope and pray the competition doesn’t do the same with their prices. It’s a game of diminishing returns.
What you really need to do is increase the value you’re offering. At the very least, this lets you stand out in an industry where everyone is comparably priced. At best, you can actually charge a premium.
Take the carpet cleaning industry as an example. This is an extremely saturated industry with lots of competition in local and national markets. Most of these companies use the same five- or six-step process to clean. Emerald Carpet Cleaning of Dublin recognizes this and chooses to use a proprietary 10-step process. It doesn’t take them that much extra time, but it does result in a better end result. (Plus, saying you use a 10-step process when everyone else is using a 6-step process sounds pretty awesome.)
How can you double-down on the competition and offer a superior product or service that produces a better end result (and sounds good in your marketing)? This is one way to stand out.
Give Away Your Best Knowledge for Free
This tactic applies more to service-based businesses and companies that sell knowledge, but it could be applicable to any company in a saturated niche.
By giving away your best knowledge for free, you build trust and establish a loyal following. And guess what? They won’t believe that you’ve just given away your richest nuggets. They’ll trust there’s more where it came from. And when they need better service or insights, they trust you over a competitor who hasn’t done anything for them. You’re a proven commodity. The competition is a gamble.
Tap Into Socially-Conscious Veins
Millennials make up an increasingly large portion of the marketplace. Most businesses either specifically focus on millennial customers or they include them as part of their target audience. Either way, you need to appeal to them.
There are a multitude of ways to appeal to millennials, but one option is to tap into their desire to support social causes. Companies like TOMS Shoes and Warby Parker are examples of brands that give away a product to charity each time a product is purchased. You don’t have to follow this model, but let it serve as inspiration.
As the saying goes, there’s riches in niches. You might think casting a wider net allows you to grab larger market share, but it actually undercuts your ability to stand out. By zeroing in on a very specific market, you’re able to immerse yourself in their wants and needs. This enables you to tailor your products, services, and messaging in a way that resonates with them.
What’s Your Move?
There will always be competition. And for most of us, the competition is heavy. But rather than getting salty about the fact that other people are reaching for the same customers and dollars as you, get excited about the opportunity to improve through differentiation.
The ball is in your court – how will you stand out today, tomorrow, and for years to come?