You’ve taken the leap; you’ve started your own business and are in the process of expanding your operation. But as you catch your breath and set about planning your next steps, you realize you’re not alone. In fact, every time you look, you seem to find another website or store like yours. The competition is fierce, and it’s the fittest business that survives.
Don’t fret. Take a deep breath. Remember: saturation means strong demand.
The question you have to ask yourself now is, “How do I stand out in a crowded industry?”
How do you set yourself apart in a world drenched in marketing messages?
In this concise guide, you’ll learn about five marketing strategies you can put into play right now. Naturally, not every tool in this post will work for you immediately. You must roll your sleeves up and put the work in. But if you’re diligent, if you’re persistent—and let’s face it, you’re a business owner, you’re both of those things—you can succeed.
You can build an online presence that will bring in constant traffic.
You can become an authority in your niche, driving potential customers to seek out your solution to their problems.
In order to set yourself apart in a saturated market, you must become adept at using a wide variety of tools—tools that change and evolve over time. What’s more, many of these tools come with upfront time commitments or else require you plunk money down from the start.
The good news? These tools aren’t as complex as you might think, and as you grow your operation, you can—and probably should—outsource to specialists. As you scale, you’ll get your time back, and, as they say, time is money.
For now, however, consider the following five tools as a starting point.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing utilizes social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and others to increase brand awareness. The goal of social media marketing is to share content that will engage and build a following. This works best when done in conjunction with content marketing, which is outlined below.
The idea is to share high quality content to build trust with a target demographic. This is known as ‘curation.’
Once you’ve built a following, you can begin inserting your own messages into the mix. However, note that several social media networks, Facebook in particular, have taken steps to limit organic reach. It may be worth your time to engage an expert to get the most out of your social media marketing efforts.
In order to compete in this saturated market, you should:
Conduct an analysis of your current social media marketing efforts. What is the status of your social media accounts? Do you share high-quality content, or do you mostly just post about your own products or services? To build an engaged following as quickly as possible, you should decide early on what to share. A good rule of thumb is to share other people’s content most of the time, and to tweet or post about your own products sparingly. A good ratio is 10:1. 5:1 may be pushing it, but your audience may tolerate more self-promotion than others. You’ll need to experiment to find a good balance.
Analyze your competition. Identify your major social media competitors and determine which platforms and other tools they’re using. Look at the questions their followers ask so you can identify their pain points. Is there something that they're slacking on? Missed opportunities by them may be big opportunities for your business.
Share a wide array of content. Not only is it okay to share other people’s content, it’s important to do so. If you share only share your own content, your audience may lose interest. You don’t need to promote your direct competitors, however. Use a PDF search engine or Google Scholar to source high quality, authoritative content.
Imagine the following scenario:
You’re an accountant who specializes in tax preparation. But business was slow this year. You want to increase your revenue, so what do you do? You could run advertisements, definitely. But there is another way. You could drive traffic to your business by becoming a local authority in the tax preparation field—with content marketing.
Content marketing is the practice of building brand awareness by creating and sharing high-quality content in a specific niche. You are now creating the content yourself, as opposed to merely finding it online and sharing it.
The power of content marketing is that it positions you as an authority in your niche. If people trust you, they will buy from you. However, you’re not creating content that promotes your products directly. Instead, you’re creating content that educates consumers on some facet of your industry, niche or area of expertise. There are a couple of things to consider:
The content must be useful. When creating content for content marketing campaigns, put yourself in the consumer’s shoes. Ask yourself, “Why am I reading this? What do I stand to gain from consuming this information? What am I after? What does your customer stand to gain by engaging with you? What are the benefits for them? Start every piece of content with this question in mind. Put your customers first.
The content must be well-written and grammatically sound. When people browse for information online, they’re typically in a hurry. When someone lands on your page, you have mere seconds to grab their attention. Numerous typos and grammatical errors destroy authority and will lead customers to hit the “Back” button. Keep this in mind: before committing to reading a page, most consumers scan the page first. In this initial sweep, they will pick up on typos.
Naturally, like social media marketing, content marketing is a long-term commitment. You’re not likely to see success overnight. But the benefits of positioning yourself as an authority in your niche are great, especially on the local level. As you begin creating content, pay attention to the comments you receive. Comments and discussion can provide you with insights into the pain points of your potential customers.
Once you’ve built a following with social media marketing (SSM) and content marketing, you can capitalize on this traffic with email campaigns. Building and maintaining a responsive email list yields several benefits:
People on your list have expressed interest in receiving updates from you. You can announce your new products or services to a receptive, engaged audience.
You have a springboard from which to launch your content. By publishing a regular newsletter, you can promote your content to your followers. This allows you to stimulate your SSM and content marketing campaigns at a very low cost.
You can communicate directly with your fans. This is the channel where you can talk all about yourself, because the people on your list want to hear from you. You should use your email marketing channel to announce new products and services, but you should also view it as an opportunity to show them you value their opinions. For instance, you could ask them for their feedback or link them to a survey you’ve set up.
Advertise directly to consumers at a lower cost. Of course, since these people have already agreed to receive messages from you, the cost per message is much lower than pay-per-click advertising.
Google AdWords was one of the first online advertising platforms. It’s a tried and true method of drumming up new business. Unlike SSM or content marketing, it requires little upfront time to generate results. Rather than spending many hours planning out content, organizing blog posts, and designing emails, your business can simply run Google Ads.
Promoting your product or service with Google Ads allows you to:
Target local customers. If you have a brick and mortar business or are a consultant, you may want to target audiences based on their location. This is an efficient way to target customers within your service area, vastly increasing your chances of receiving relevant leads. You can further fine-tune your local ad campaign by writing geographically relevant ad copy. This will increase your CTR, which should result in a lower cost per click. Finally, when you create local ads, you can run them when local businesses are open or during regular business hours, which will save you money.
Increase brand awareness. Going for the direct conversion with pay-per-click ads is always a valid option, but you can also pay per thousand impressions. These ads are often less expensive, and they give you the chance to expose potential customers to your brand.
Re-engage with your website visitors. With Google Ads, you can retarget people who have previously visited your website. This allows you to capture the business of curious ‘window shoppers.’ These are people who have visited many of your site’s pages, but who have not made an order.
While this approach can generate significant return on investment quickly, it is important that the account and campaigns are structured effectively. There are many experts that will manage your Google Ads account and make necessary changes for much cheaper than the average cost of traditional marketing techniques (billboards, magazines, etc.) If you'd like to speak with our Google-certified experts, please click here.
Instagram is an immensely popular video and photo sharing application. The platform was purchased by Facebook in 2012. Since then, power users known as ‘influencers’ have emerged on the platform. Partnering with these influencers can be a powerful way to boost brand awareness.
Influencer marketing campaigns can be immensely profitable because they give you access to a hungry market, and perhaps more importantly, trust is baked right in. When you advertise on Instagram via an influencer, you profit from the authority and good will that influencer has built up.
According to a study by the University of Wollongong, Instagram can provide entrepreneurs a way to break through when more traditional methods fail.
Here are but a few of the brands that have run profitable influencer marketing campaigns on Instagram:
Sprint, with its #LiveUnlimited campaign. Influencers: Gerard Adams & Prince Royce.
Old Navy & Boys & Girls Club of America. Influencer: Alex Rodriguez
Fiji Water, with its BodyWoreWhat campaign. Influencer: Danielle Bernstein
Kaikatsu Club, NetCafe VR. Influencer: Enarkorin.
Building an Instagram following of your own can pay dividends, too. When you create an Instagram account, you can link directly to your site. Many customers enjoy seeing the more human side of a company, so one way to build a following is to share fun photos of your internal operation. If you can get one or more of these photos to go viral, you can lead valuable traffic back to your site.
These tools will help you set yourself apart in a saturated market, but at the end of the day, they’re only tools. To get the most out of them, you need to build a solid foundation from which to compete. To do this, there are a few principles you should keep in mind at all times.
When considering the tools above, think about how to use them in conjunction with the principles outlined below.
Always innovate. Imagine yourself up against a competitor that never sleeps. How would you compete with such an opponent? The answer: innovation. Always strive to address your target market’s pain points in new ways. Remember: there’s always someone out there entering the market who is hungrier than you. A little complacency on your part is all it takes for them to eat up your market share.
Create greater perceived value. What does your product or service provide that your competitor’s doesn’t? What are the main differentiating factors between you and them? Imagine those differentiating factors as a wedge, and constantly seek to enlarge that wedge so that you become the greater value, or the obvious choice. Dedicated customer care, rewards, buyer programs and periodic sales are good places to start.
Analyze your biggest competitor. In a saturated market, you will always find several competitors that have become complacent. Who is resting on their laurels? What are they not doing? Why? Does their complacency provide you with an opportunity to squeeze them out? For instance, if they have lackluster social media engagement, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your potential customers aren’t hungry for quality content. On the contrary, they may be waiting for someone like you to come along and give it to them.
Testing the waters would cost you relatively little, but the rewards may be great.
We hope this concise guide has given you insights into how to flourish in a saturated market. If you'd like to get started with the tools mentioned above, but aren't sure what to do first or if you have time, let us know! We'd be happy to help!