Becoming a market leader doesn’t happen overnight, but rather takes careful planning and hard work.
Here are some steps startups can take to position themselves as leaders in their field:
1. Offer something niche.
Becoming a leader in a market with well-established players is unlikely. Instead of trying to battle over saturated, broad markets, find a narrow market and a specialized product or service. The smaller the market, the easier it will be to become a leader.
2. Be a purple cow.
Even in a niche market, there is bound to be competition. To become a leader, businesses need to find ways to differentiate themselves from others in the industry.
As Seth Godin explains in his book, Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, a stand-out product is the key to success.
Both Apple and Google fit the purple cow model. Although there were many computer manufacturers when Apple launched the Macintosh in 1984, the company focused on design and user experience. When Google launched in 1998, it quickly surpassed other search engines that had existed for years by thinking about a new approach to ranking search results and by designing a clean and user-friendly interface.
To become a leader, focus on what can set the business apart. What isn’t the competition doing? Are there new and different ways to think about the product?
3. Move quickly.
Don’t wait for perfection to launch a product. Instead, constantly execute and iterate.
Keep in mind that a product will never be perfect, and it definitely won’t be at launch. Once the product has been in the market, listen to customer feedback and consider their wants, needs and concerns. Strive to innovate, adapt to changes in the market and stay two steps ahead of the competition.
4. Satisfy customers.
Customers hold the power in today’s social media and technology-driven world. What they say can make or break companies.
A 2013 survey of 1,046 consumers conducted by Dimensional Research on behalf of Zendesk found that 90 percent of respondents said that positive online reviews influence buying decisions, while 86 percent said that negative reviews directly and negatively impact their purchasing decisions.
A product or service needs to be high quality to satisfy customers, turning them into brand ambassadors for the company. If a product does receive a negative review or feedback on social media, address the problem and use the comment to improve the product.
5. Invest in marketing.
Creative marketing and ad strategies are needed to reach consumers and build brand awareness.
The Content Marketing Institute’s annual content marketing survey of 5,000 marketers found that business-to-consumer marketers are using an average of 11 content-marketing tactics including social media, blogs, newsletters and website articles. What’s more, they use an average of seven different social-media platforms to reach consumers.
Be ambitious with marketing. Look for new and creative ways to market your product and connect with customers.