A crowded market is not a bad thing. I see it as an opportunity.
Competing in a crowded market can be very tough, but it’s possible for you to compete and succeed.
A crowded market or niche shows there’s a high demand for products/services in that niche.
If you’ve been marketing in the digital world for some time now, you should know that almost every market is competitive. It never feels like you have no competition.
If no one is directly competing with you, then you have people who indirectly compete with you.
For example, Google and Facebook aren’t direct competitors because Google is a search engine and Facebook is a social site.
When you think of Google’s competitors, you probably think of Bing and other search engines. Similarly, when you think of Facebook’s competitors, you probably think of LinkedIn, Twitter or some other social platforms.
At the end of 2013, Google’s chairman and former CEO, Eric Schmidt admitted during an interview with Bloomberg News:
“The biggest mistake that I made was not anticipating the rise of the social networking phenomenon — not a mistake we’re going to make again.” – Eric Schmidt
Google and Facebook compete for advertising dollars. Google has the AdWords program, and Facebook has their ad platform too.
For years, AdWords has been the number one advertising platform because it’s easy to learn, has tons of data available for research and because your ads are placed on search results for keywords that are relevant to your business.
Facebook’s advertising platform equips marketers with more detailed information about their target audiences. It also comes with lower prices compared to AdWords.
Even though they do different things, Google and Facebook compete in search.
Facebook has its in-app search function:
Google and Facebook compete on providing web users with business recommendations.
Google lets you review local businesses.
You can also use Facebook to review local businesses:
Google and Facebook compete on communication and messaging.
Google offers Hangouts and G Suite (formerly Google Apps For Work).
And Facebook offers Messenger.
As you can see, although Google and Facebook don’t compete directly, they still compete indirectly in a lot of different ways. So, there’s nothing like a market with zero competition.
There will always be competition. But competition is not an excuse.
In this article, I’ll reveal smart ways to compete in crowded markets.
Make your product 10x better than market leaders just for one vertical
When you enter a saturated market, you need to establish a small presence to have any chance of competing with the leaders.
One of the smartest ways to quickly establish a small presence is by targeting one vertical the competition ignores.
For example, Facebook didn’t start out as the big social platform for everybody in the world, which it is today. In 2004, the domain name was Thefacebook.com, and it was just a social networking site for college students.
By being a social network for college students, the site built up a solid presence within a short time. This helped Facebook gained power that helped it conquered the social networking world.
Google also targeted one vertical when it launched. The home page had just the search box. People who wanted a search engine that’s focused mainly on search loved Google.
Google is more than a search engine today. The company has become so big that it rebranded itself as Alphabet in 2015.
It started with one vertical, in one market. Google is now dominating many crowded tech markets.
He talked about how targeting the construction vertical brought growth and new inbound customers.
“Egnyte experienced significant traction with the construction vertical use cases. As a result, we decided to make a concentrated effort in “attacking” that vertical from every aspect of the company: sales, marketing, advertising, business development, etc.
In doing so, we were able to touch base with new customers and uncover multiple new use cases for how Egnyte could thrive in a construction setting.
With existing customers like Balfour Beatty, Devcon, and PC Construction flourishing in their deployments, they were also able to provide excellent examples for new inbound customers interested in our product.
It has really been a win-win for existing and new customers in the construction vertical as they not only help grow our business, but in turn, we are able to develop our product to their specific needs and create a better all-around experience for specific customer deployments.” – Vineet Jain, CEO and co-founder of Egnyte
You can do this in any saturated market. All you have to do is find one small niche and tailor your product or service to suit the needs of prospects in that niche.
Redefine your market
Sometimes, your first targeted customers may not be so interested in your product.
Maybe they can’t just leave your competitors. Or they believe they don’t need your product. Or, your marketing messages aren’t reaching them.
If you’re finding it difficult to get customers because the market is crowded, it may be time to redefine who your customers are.
For example, Greg Muender was a junior in college when he founded TicketKick, a San Diego-based company that helped contest speeding tickets for California drivers.
Muender identified college-age men as his ideal customers because they receive a high number of speeding tickets than other groups.
In the early days, getting these ideal customers was very difficult, and most of his clients came through word-of-mouth.
Then one day, Muender got a call from a driver who had received a ticket in the mail showing that a camera had caught him running a red light. He was very surprised by the call because it wasn’t from his predefined target market.
He was very surprised by the call because it wasn’t from his predefined target market.
When he looked into the matter, he quickly realized that a lot of drivers were confused when it came to fighting red light camera tickets.
According to Muender “a lot of people don’t know it exists.”
He changed his website, marketing strategy and messaging from attracting speeders to attracting red-light runners caught on camera.
What happened next?
The business received calls from 18-year old males to grandmas – all kinds of age groups. As a result, TicketKick’s revenue doubled. The work they did generate more word-of-mouth that led to more customers.
Today, the business has become well established and successful that it fights various types of traffic tickets like speeding, sign violation, cell phone and more.
Muender had to redefine who his customers are to get the business to this stage.
You can also redefine your market by shifting your geographic target.
For example, you may be targeting people in New York. People in this state may not be so interested in buying your product. They may even believe they don’t need it.
But when you switch to a state like Florida or even the whole United States, the business may start to boom.
When Nick Blitterswyk and his partner started developing the technology for their wind turbine manufacturing company, Urban Green Energy, their target market was U.S. urban areas like Manhattan.
They made their turbines attractive, make little noise, and suitable for people that live in urban environments.
The partners were surprised when their first sale came from a university in Australia. They never thought about targeting international customers.
Orders followed from Lebanon and Aruba.
It was then Blitterswyk decided they should expand internationally.
They opened an office in Beijing, created ads and web pages in several languages and partner with distributors from different countries.
A big percentage of the company’s growth comes from outside the United States.
Don’t be afraid of expanding beyond your current geographic market if you find it difficult getting customers in your present state, country, and continent.
Create a unique value proposition
Your unique value proposition (UVP) will help you stand out in a competitive marketplace. The UVP makes people see your business from a different perspective when compared to the competition.
For example, Villa Real Estate is based in Johannesburg, the largest city and capital of South Africa, and one of the 50 largest urban areas in the world.
Real estate in this city is crowded.
Villa Real Estate created a clear UVP that makes them stand out from the competition:
The company realized that being a realtor in 2017 is very different from being a realtor in 1987, 1997, or even 2012. They understood what it means to be different. They know that a UVP is needed to compete in a crowded market like the real estate in Johannesburg.
Tell customers why they should buy from you and not the competition. You do that through your company’s UVP.
The UVP is not a slogan or catch phrase. It is not a positioning statement. The UVP tells customers the benefits your product/service offers, which they won’t find elsewhere.
For example, Dollar Shave Club has a UVP that will capture your attention:
“Try any razor for just $1.”
This UVP gave Dollar Shave Club a significant competitive edge in a crowded market.
Create more value for customers than competitors
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get. ” – Warren Buffet
The secret to conquering any competitive market is very simple:
You only need to increase the value of your offer.
In fact, the secret is not a secret at all. Many businesses are using this simple secret to quickly dominate competitive markets within a very short period of time.
Take a look at the offerings of your competitors.
How can you improve your offer to be better?
Assuming you are the customer, will you see it as a better offer?
Another great way to improve the value of your product/service is to offer a better customer satisfaction.
You should also do offline surveys by quizzing customers.
The honest feedback you collect through surveys can help you create a better product/service that offers more value to customers. This will help you in your quest to dominating your crowded market.
In addition to that, never underestimate the power of creating free resources for customers.
Think of useful tools you can create and give customers for free.
For example, HubSpot lets you use their customer relationship management (CRM) software for free.
You can do something similar. Create a lot of free resources and tools. Free tools and resources entice customers to connect with your brand.
When a lot of potential clients are connecting with your brand, it increases your chances of turning them into customers.
Create an amazing customer experience
I mentioned an important point related to customer satisfaction above.
Therefore, I’ll like to make something clear before I proceed:
Customer satisfaction and customer experience are not the same things.
I often hear “customer satisfaction,” “customer experience” and even “customer service” being used interchangeably. They mean different things.
Customer satisfaction is the measure of how a company’s product/service meets, surpasses, or fails a customer’s expectation.
Customer experience (CX) is the whole interactions a customer has with a brand and its products.
“Customer experience is the sum of all engagements and interactions a customer has with your business in every step of their journey and lifecycle. It’s what your customer feels, thinks, says (to you and others) and more so, what they do now and in the time to come that counts for everything.” – Brian Solis
Customer service is the advice and assistance provided by a company’s customer representative to those people who buy or use its products or services.
Let’s talk about customer experience.
Customer experience begins even before someone becomes a customer. It’s a process that starts the moment someone learns about your company.
If you can nail your customer experience process, then you can compete in a competitive market.
You need to ensure your company has the most important elements of an ideal customer experience.
Don’t be afraid to compete in a crowded market.
As I said above, if a market is crowded, it indicates that there’s a lot of demand for creativity, innovation and an excellent customer service.
You can compete and win if you follow the instructions laid out in this article.
What other ways you can compete in a crowded market?
Tell me your answer using the comment box below.