If you have a startup company with limited resources, you are probably wondering how you can ever compete with the 800-pound gorillas in your industry? I know I was when we launched our business at the end of 2013. My partner and I both had years of online marketing experience, but were limited with the capital we could use to get things up and running.
Feeling overwhelmed with the challenge of going head-to-head with well-established companies is a problem entrepreneurs have been facing for years. Below are four things we did to gain market share and build our brand into a thriving business:
- Focus On a Niche
Many businesses try to be too many things to too many people. As a young startup, trying to offer a wide range of diverse products and services makes it extremely difficult to build any one thing that is truly extraordinary.
Our company’s broad value proposition is to increase customers’ online visibility. These days, there are a myriad of different tactics and services that can be utilized to achieve this goal. Rather than follow the traditional model of offering 10 or 15 different online products, we chose to focus on inbound marketing. Building fulfillment processes for just two root services gave us the bandwidth to construct a high-end product.
Consumers would much rather work with a company that offers one super high quality product than a wide range of mediocre services. Focusing on a niche service has given us the time and energy to build high quality fulfillment processes, customer service and reporting. As your business grows, you will have the resources needed to build other extraordinary offerings.
- Become The Expert
Building your brand as the authority in your industry is a great way to expand your overall visibility. Don’t be afraid to educate your audience.
We’ve seen a serious hesitation from a high percentage of our clients when it comes to giving away free eBooks, guides and access to high quality blog posts. They think discussing niche topics will give away their company’s trade secrets and knowledge. This kind of thinking will limit the quality and quantity of content you produce on your site.
Consumers and businesses alike are looking to engage with companies that are innovators and experts. Offering educational material is really the best way to show your level of expertise.
Below are a few things you can do to show your expertise in the industry:
Build a Killer Resource Section on Your Site
Having a robust resource section on your website is a great way to offer visitors educational material about your industry. Just because potential clients are reading about your service, doesn’t mean they are going to know how to do it themselves. Instead, this is a chance for you to show your expertise and articulate your industry knowledge.
Focus on Content Marketing
Content marketing is quickly becoming one of most used online marketing tactics. Building a blog that consistently puts out high quality industry information props your brand up as the expert and gives Google a reason to place your website higher in the SERPs.
Get Involved with the Community
Getting involved in the conversation across different social media networks is a great way to show your industry expertise. We strongly recommend trying to add value through being an active participate in relevant industry conversations.
Before you get started with a social media campaign, make sure you listen. The worst thing you could do would be to barge into the social space with a bunch of promotional/sales content. After you listen and understand the discussion, you can start adding your point of view.
- Have a Better Price Point
Having a lower price point is an easy way to separate your company from the competition. While having a lower profit margin makes it more difficult to grow your bank account, it gives potential customers a reason to give you a shot.
Having a lower price point can be used in several different ways to help drive new business. Below are a few easy places where you can advertise offering a lower price:
Remarketing is a fantastic way to turn interested users into qualified leads. Google runs this program through their AdWords platform. When a person visits your site, Google places a cookie on their browser. They will then receive custom ads for the next 30 days. Designing your ads to reflect a better price point is a great way to find new customers.
LinkedIn & Facebook Ads
Both Facebook and LinkedIn have great advertising networks. You can be very selective with the demographic you’re targeting. Including some messaging about your price point is a great way to strike up some interest about your service.
Product Pages on Website
If you have a better price point than the competition for a comparable product or service, communicating that value on your website would be a good idea.
- Show Your Customers You Care
Treating your customers better than other companies in your industry is an easy way to separate yourself from the crowd.
According to a recent study conducted by Accenture Global Consumer Pulse, 62 percent of global consumers switched service providers due to a poor customer service experience. Because this is such an important factor in client retention rates, having better customer service than your competitor would be a massive competitive advantage.
The Internet has put the power back into the hands of the consumer. Having easy access to a wide range of vendors offering similar services has greatly reduced switching cost. This has made customer service more important than ever.
There are several things you can do to show your customers you care:
Resolve Issues as Fast as Possible
In considering the different factors that go into great customer service, 82 percent of consumers said having their issue resolved quickly was most important. Seeing how the speed of getting problems fixed is so critical, this is where you should dedicate most of your focus.
In order to resolve concerns in a timely manner, you first need to be aware of the problem. Putting a system together to field questions and then a process to answer should be your first priority. There are a few methods that make this extremely easy and efficient:
Live chat has turned into a really easy way to connect with your customers in real time. We’ve seen big companies like Google, Rackspace and HostMonster utilize live chat as the first option for resolving issues. If your company is small, with limited resources, you may have to be the person that runs the live chat program. There are really easy apps you can download to your phone, so you can connect 24 hours a day.
Networks like Facebook and Twitter have made it extremely easy to interact with your customers. According to the LivePerson Research Study, improving customer service has been the most important benefit that has come out of social media for premium level companies.
Using your corporate website is the most common way to take care of customer service issues. The important thing here is that you have a solid process to give accurate information in a timely manner. We strongly recommend clearly defining who is going to be in charge of what within your organization. This will remove any question about who is going to communicate with the client.
Reward Long-Term Clients with Extra Value
Lately, we’ve been seeing lots of companies offer special pricing or promotions to new clients. How is this supposed to make the customers who have been loyal to your brand feel? If you are going to run some kind of promotion to help find new customers, make sure you do the same for your current book of business.
Providing current clients with additional value is a great way to show your appreciation. It’s also helpful with up-selling customers on additional services. Taking care of your long-term customers will ensure that they don’t start looking for a different provider.
The Internet has leveled the playing field and given startups a way to compete with the industry giants. Separating your business from the crowd will ensure long-term growth and company prosperity. Focusing on creating a better niche product, industry leadership and top quality customer service are the stones you will use to slay the goliaths in your sector of the market.
Jonathan Wickham has been in the online marketing industry for over seven years. He is the original founder of Digital Flavor Enterprises. His company focuses on creating long-term, sustainable results using inbound marketing tactics. Digital Flavor is a premium level agency specifically built for medium to enterprise level brands.
Image credit: CC by Tambako The Jaguar