Sometimes, it seems every great idea is already taken. However, your idea doesn’t need to be new for your business to thrive. Successful companies like Netflix and Warby Parker were, once upon a time, start-ups that stemmed not from producing “the next big thing”, but from understanding what the market needed. Movies and glasses are not new concepts, but the innovation with which both companies changed people’s experiences consuming these products gave them a competitive edge.
Even if your company has been in the game a long time, it’s important to stay in tune with changing market trends and consumer needs. Yes, the competition is fierce, but there are steps you can take to rise above the rest.
Before anything, do your research. Market research is crucial in understanding your industry’s framework and being aware of your customers, as well as what your competitors are doing. Through market research (such as customer surveys), you can establish a line of communication with clients that will help you understand their needs in order to better tailor your goods or services to meet those needs. Learning what the competition is doing means you can set prices competitively, and also figure out how to do things even better. If your business is already established, market research enables you to test out products or ideas before you decide to officially launch them. Small-business owners can see which concepts best resonate with target consumers to ensure success. The market is always changing, so consistent research is needed to evolve with your customers and to stay relevant.
Every employee has a significant impact on a company’s culture, especially at a smaller business. One person’s creativity, efficiency, or negative attitude can have a ripple effect among coworkers. When recruiting a new hire, make sure they mirror the company’s culture, goals, and values. Consider the type of work environment you want to maintain, and the values most important to you. Then use your logic and instincts to hire someone that personifies those qualities, someone you believe you will genuinely enjoy working with. Focus on hiring the right person and worry about training later. Take time and recruit someone you feel is innovative and adaptable. Don’t just hire because you’re pressed for time. Choosing the wrong person could have a major negative impact on your company – and your position in the market.
Connect with the consumer by creating a business with a relatable persona and human values that people can connect to. Giants in the same industry often have a cold, uniform way of dealing with customers. As a smaller business, you have the opportunity to respond directly to the needs of customers and build closer relationships with them. When it comes to marketing and conveying your message, make sure you’re wording things in a way that makes potential clients believe you’re talking directly to them. Humanizing your brand can be a powerful tool when competing in a saturated market against businesses that lack connection with their customers.
Your origin story (essentially, your bio) is an crucial part of separating yourself from your competition. Give your customers a sense of who you are. Why did you get into the business? What continues to motivate you? People want to do business with people that share their values. If you give them more of who you are, chances are they will connect with you – and your business.
Take care of your customers. Prioritizing customer service means making clients feel like they are heard, and that you have a genuine interest in their experience with your company. Get in touch with your customers via phone, email surveys or social media, and make sure you offer ways to connect on your website’s “Contact Us” page. Marketing is important, but ongoing customer support holds incredible value when growing your business. Existing customers should be nurtured so they’ll always come back. More importantly, they’ll make it a point to recommend your business, making them impactful and profitable for you. Your customers’ needs may also change, so it’s important to stay relevant to them. A satisfied customer is your best salesperson.
Use Social Media
This one may seem obvious but using social media platforms effectively means figuring out what works for your consumers. Being on all social media platforms may not necessarily be the best strategy for your business. Focus on one or two channels where your audience lives (Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.), and then dominate that specific platform. Facebook is an obvious choice simply based on popularity. With over 1 billion users, it’s guaranteed that at least some of your audience is on Facebook, and you can use defining demographics to tailor your marketing strategy and target certain groups.
Don’t let a crowded market deter you. It means there’s plenty of demand, and, most likely, needs that still aren’t being met. Find what can be improved and offer a solution. Use the tools and resources available to you, and always put the customer first. Savvy startups and small-business owners are still finding ways to gain a competitive edge in an oversaturated market by finding the missing pieces and filling the gaps.
Helen Jacob | Contributing Writer