How Can I Find Customers in a Competitive Market?
You Want More! When you’re starting a new business - or strategising to grow an existing one, competition can be intimidating. Competition is a fact of life and business, and it will affect every aspect of your planning, from pricing to promotion.
Finding customers is always going to be critical when you’re launching or growing a business. We used to worry when there was a lot of competition for our product or service, but these days we also need to worry about competition in general for our attention.
So how do you get the attention you need for your product or service? It’s easy to daydream that someday, you’ll have a moment of inspiration and dream up a product that is so unique it’ll have zero competition. However, even the most innovative new products or services will eventually face competition as others enter the market. There’s really no use holding out for that perfect, competition-free product. Instead, if you have a business idea you’re passionate about, there are ways to succeed even in a crowded market.
There are numerous ways to do it, from social media marketing to SEO to traditional marketing to selling at pop-ups or trade shows, and which ones work best will ultimately depend on your business, your customers, and you.
Yep... you need to do some work
Today’s consumer is both picky and savvy. Between flash banner ads, spam emails, colourful billboards, repeating ad pop ups on social media, the dreaded embedded digital ads in web articles, big data, AI tracking every move online to present custom ads, privacy breaches and concerns, consumers can become numb to the barrage of marketing efforts and in some cases negatively affecting a customer’s experience with a brand.
Marketers, social media platforms and devices are all trying to out-manoeuver each other with sellers continually finding ways to engage and consumers trying equally hard to avoid them. But the cat-and-mouse game has reached a critical point, especially as devices have gotten smaller. Ads have become so annoying, consumers and industry executives say, that they could sink the internet if they were not also helping support it.
For a business today, there is a high level of pressure to spend more and more with a plethora of ‘pop-up experts” experts with an ever increasing choices to make, that sometimes, this can confuse a business owner to the point of making no choice at all.
Yes, you can outsource this, but without a basic understanding of what you are doing, you can easily lose control of your marketing spend, be disappointed or worse, ripped off.
‘Pop up experts’ will try to sell you into the one line/thing they have got a handle on, and that may not be the right bait, pond or fish for you. Many a business has been burned by marketing and social media promises made to them in the past, so it is worth putting in the time yourself as nobody knows your target audience better than you.
1. Analyse your Competitors. You need to know your competitors and their products and build a competitive edge that you are proud to showcase. Know what they are offering, buy it, take it apart, and find gaps in their product, messaging, retail distribution, target audience. Do they miss local? Are they selling only retail and not wholesale and vice versa? Do they only market online? Are they only on one social media platform? Analyse what they are doing, know your own audience and don’t follow them – yes, sometimes even big brands get it wrong. Analyse and think critically about what they are doing and either do it better, or do it differently. But, have a strategy, and do it well.
2. Use multichannel marketing. Multichannel marketing refers to the practice of interacting with customers using a combination of indirect and direct communication channels and media – websites, retail stores, mail order catalogues, direct mail, email, mobile, advertising, networking, social media, etc. – and enabling customers to take action in response – preferably to buy your product or service – using the channel of their choice. In the most simplistic terms, multichannel marketing is all about choice.
Multichannel marketing is important for the simple reason that you must be where your most relevant customers are. The end goal is to capture an audience’s attention in a unique and memorable way. In an ideal world with unlimited resources, your company would have helpful and relevant content on every single channel. But since you’re not Coca-Cola, you have to be strategic about targeting, so you can sustain these efforts to grow your business.
3. If you have a product, get it in customers’ hands.
Besides multichannel marketing, if you’ve got a product, get it in your customers’ hands. That’s one thing successful brands have done well. Because you can be confident that your product is better than anything out there, but when you’re a new business, you can’t just tell people that. You have to show them. Gift products, sponsor events and give out free products saying “Try our product, we’re confident you’ll love it and come back.” This strategy works once you’re truly confident that you’ve got a product that stands out in the marketplace, so the time you invest in competitive research and product testing is the cornerstone of this strategy. Once you’re there, you can focus on finding opportunities to hook new customers and win loyal fans for your brand by relying on the strength of the product.
4. If you have a service, get it in front of your potential clients consistently. If you have a $70 product, the barriers for people to buy that item is a lot lower than for someone to trust their life savings for advice with a financial planner. For a lot of service industries trust will be a crucial factor. What builds trust? Familiarity and consistency. Network. Do Trade Shows. Get in front of your community. Sponsor sports and community groups. Lend out or donate branded marquees to sports and community groups, brand your car, put signage out in your community to be seen each day. Great branding is crucial to a service industry. Great branding builds an asset for you. Engage a professional to develop your brand, as unfortunately too many businesses these days are posting pretty pictures and are measuring popularity rather than penetration and conversion. Facebook now sees 8 billion average daily video views from 500 million users and Google processes 100 billion searches a month, your budget may expire if used incorrectly, without gaining you the necessary familiarity and consistency needed for trust. If you are developing a brand and want to delve deeper into success tips, ask for the free E-Book by Big Bold Branding “Making Sense of Multi-Channel Marketing: Fish Where the Fish Are”.
5. Use competition to inform and inspire.
When you’re taking your first steps into a competitive market, seeing all of the polished, established brands in your space can be intimidating. You should never compare your step one to someone else’s step 100. Do what you can with the budget you have and do it really well, and manage your expectations so you don’t lose traction. It is next to impossible to launch with a brand that is going right into retail stores or a service or platform that will be signed up by new clients straight away. Get the word out there, establish your brand and deliver a great product. The rest will come. You just have to be confident and realistic. If you’ve got a good understanding of the competition and you’ve invested time into refining your product or service to fill a gap in the market, you’re ready to start selling. The rest will come.