Even though startups in the digital world have a major competitive edge, most still fail within the first few years of their launch in high market competition. Establishing within saturated markets, successful direct competition, and dry industries has become undoubtedly the biggest challenge for a new business. In recent years, business competition has become more rigid and complex with technological and digital disruptions. Businesses must adapt robust digital marketing strategies and tools to stand out in the ocean of brands.
We at Abubble understand the importance of the rightfully designed business plan and marketing strategies. We have, therefore, curated this comprehensive guide to provide you with innovative yet cost-effective marketing solutions to give your business the much needed initial boost in a competitive market and to beat the established brands in the long run.
How Competition Strengthens Startups?
Contrary to popular belief that a startup not having competition survives and thrives, new research has shown that startups surviving their first year in the intense competition have increased survival rates. Therefore it is better to have competition than starting up in an uncontested market. But how to compete with big established companies and brands when you’re also struggling with startup costs?
10 successful way to compete as a Startup
Improve Competitive Intelligence
Competitive intelligence is the fundamental tool of digital marketing strategy that provides information about the competitive landscape, competitor marketing strategies for both direct and indirect competitors, and market-driven consumer needs. The active competitor information, market research, and having the right competitive intelligence help businesses with an incisive analysis to devise future marketing strategies, business pitches, new solutions for same consumer need and effective financial planning.
By integrating Competitive Intelligence and following all its three phases in business marketing strategy, startups can easily compete.
Phase 1 Track
Tracking, the first step to integrating competitive intelligence is the information gathering of your business competitors through tracking market competition, competitors’ websites, press releases, same target audience purchase behaviour, and field intelligence. The extracted Information should help you know about the demands of competitors’ services or products in the market, the competitive landscape for your business idea, and any new initiatives taken by the competitors to stay afloat in the market.
Phase 2 Analyse
Analysing the information that has been gathered is the most crucial step. The rightfully designed analytical frameworks to understand the key points related to competitors and the market will lead your competitive intelligence in the right direction. Therefore, it is important not to avoid this step and consult expert market analysts to help you analyse your competition.
Phase 3 Activate
The most crucial part is to devise the next business strategy based on the analytical insights gathered while helping stakeholders respond to the activation in the desired manner. If you have taken your time to sublimate the data collected in the first two phases, then designing a comprehensive plan of action would come to you quickly. Look for the idea that can maximise the impact and implement it accordingly to increase the business presence in the market.
Market Gap Identification
If you want to lead the market and defeat your competitors, you must identify any gaps in the market and come up with strategies to address those gaps. Analyse the gaps found and look for innovative solutions to devise new services and products targeting the unmet needs of audiences.
To identify the gaps to be filled, you can try asking your customers and target audience and analyse their pain points through different surveys and feedback forms. Look out for new industry trends and adapt to the relevant ones to stay ahead of your competition.
Brand Identity conceptualisation
Branding is not just your company’s logo; instead, it is the medium through which a startup connects with its target customers by expressing its brand’s core values, business methodologies, mission, and vision. It would be best if you nail down your brand identity through digital marketing as;
- Branding adds peculiarity to your business identity and allows you to excel in the market as a startup.
- A rightfully created branding, reflecting the main ideas behind the company’s products and services, helps businesses to target the right audience.
- Branding promotes the strong image of the business in the market, ultimately increasing business life in the market by multi-folds.
Effective digital marketing has always been considered the indicator of business success, so startups need to optimise and maximise their budget for digital marketing. As with other factors involved in a successful digital marketing strategy, the allocation of budget is equally crucial for its success through;
- controlling marketing costs and expenses.
- Allocating and spending the marketing budget on the predetermined allotted points to get a vivid picture of ROI.
- Guiding business stakeholders towards the right direction of prioritising business objectives and goals while having a complete financial picture.
Effective Customer Services
Customers are a significant asset for businesses to stand out; that’s why do not give your customers a reason to look for an alternative supplier. Customers have always been the trusted marketing channels to market the brand reputation. We know that if a startup succeeds in gaining a huge customer base and positive customer response, it will ultimately prevail.
New businesses must establish effective customer services, personalise the contact with their customers and provide a uniquely tailored experience. Effective customer services like automation, personalised emails, and discounts must be offered to the customers to stay ahead of the competition. Effective customer services demand an effective recruitment process, so it is essential that you look for team members with relevant expertise. Hiring specialised recruitment agencies may help you in the long run. Specialised hiring agencies like marketing or IT recruitment agencies understand the industry trends and job roles and hence help businesses with adequate staffing and ultimately effective customer services.
Seek Expert Advice
Growth planning of the business is not an easy process. A startup with serious competition in the market might need expert advice and professional guidance when it comes to having a competitive advantage in business.
Seeking professional advice at the early stage might seem like an unnecessary expense. Still, startups who have invested in the right help for their business promotions and operations deemed it the right decision. You can easily get the return on investment if the strategic planning, accounting, and marketing are done right for your business, targeted audience and the market.
Enhance Your USP & Product Quality
Unique selling points (USPs) make your business and your products and services stand out in the market. To compete in the corporate sector, a startup must enhance its USPs and improve the quality of products. When a business identifies its USPs like lower prices, higher quality, better customer experience, or the new technological innovation, it can convert its prospective customers more easily. Your startup will gain a strong selling position in the market and high leads by taking these initiatives.
Invest in Creative Social Media Marketing
As we know, startups do not have much budget to spend on advertising and attracting the same audience like the established brands. So, the most accessible, affordable and realistic idea in this digital era would be social media marketing. The question is: What difference will your brand make to grasp the audience’s attention?
Creativity and innovation never fail to impress the audience, and we know that visuals have a substantial impact on people’s minds. So, make your social media marketing look creative by incorporating infographics in your content, creating video content, introducing story-telling content, and implementing social and organic social media strategies to compete.
Forming a strategic alliance with other businesses gives more exposure to your business as you are managing efforts to make your place in the market. Through business collaborations and the right affiliations at the right time will help you gain the competitive edge way sooner than you have estimated.
Bring Novelty through Technology
To stay on top of your competitor, it is imperative to think ahead, and that can only be possible if you keep up with the innovative practices introduced in the same industry. But introducing modern technology is not the answer to all your problems; informing your target audiences about it is equally important. Train your team to be creative and innovative to introduce your new techniques to the target market.
Including innovation in your company policy and aligning its marketing strategy with new technology will keep the customers interested in your products and services.
How to compete as an already Established Brand?
The swiftness and unpredictability of the digital world have brought a fundamental shift in the definition of business success. Success now depends on adapting to the demanding changes of the time. Let us explore how you can compete as an established brand and stay relevant to the target audience.
Follow New Marketing Trend
Digital transformation is setting new marketing and consumer trends. With evolving technology, consumers’ taste is also shifting, and so are their demands. So, if a business wants to maintain its reputation, it must integrate the new and effective marketing trends in its business strategy to widen the gap between its competitors while staying way ahead. Meanwhile, you must focus on the critical elements of your marketing strategy and stay up to date with the changing trends. The content marketing strategy working for you today might not do so the following year. Having expert marketers can help you avoid such grave mistakes.
Make Decisions Based on Data Analysis
Keeping an eye on the competition always benefits your business. Through competitive intelligence, get a thorough knowledge of your competitors, consumer needs, and the target market.
Knowing the market gaps and competitor weaknesses will help you make data-driven decisions and strategies to lead the market and build a strong customer pool. A detailed competitor analysis can help you know about the competitive landscape gaps and opportunities.
Upscale Your Business Strategy With Time
The changing marketing trends constantly demand changes in a business strategy based on competitor analysis, target audience, market gaps, potential opportunities and industry trends. It is important to upscale your business strategy that is flexible enough to adapt to any changes. Moreover, the business strategy should be able to transform according to market needs, changing trends, and consumer demands.
By upscaling your business strategy at the right time and taking advantage of your competitors’ vulnerabilities, you will definitely be able to beat the competition while enhancing your unique selling points.
Upgrade Your Business Website
Never judge a book by its cover but in digital marketing, it goes the other way around as multiple studies on consumer demand and behaviour conclude that consumers mostly judge business credibility through its online presence, mainly its website. So, when you are aiming to compete within a highly competitive market, you must invest more to have a high quality and high performing website.
To attract the attention of an audience with less than a few seconds of attention span, your website should be clean, clear, and easy on the eyes. Upgrade your business website to integrate new features that are user friendly and can represent your business’s core values at the same time. You may need to hire a web development agency to create or enhance our business website considering your business goals and market trends.
Revisit Your SEO Strategy
SEO is the cornerstone of a successful online business and is also becoming an integral part of retail businesses looking out to get more online presence. To get better visibility in the search engine results, you must optimise your website through SEO tools to get the most effective results.
Having an SEO optimised website helps businesses in every stage of the business. The more you have high ranking keywords, the more you have the chance to attract a maximum audience to your website. However, the SEO industry is constantly changing and experiencing sudden impacts, therefore, it is important to have an SEO expert on board.
Build Strong Digital Presence
Having a digital presence is not enough with changing trends. Many small businesses have grasped the vast customers’ attention through digital marketing in cost-effective ways. But now, the competition in digital marketing has become challenging.
Every brand tries to have a strong presence on social media and search engines. In this situation, the only way to make a difference is by building a solid foundation for your business. Ensure maximum audience reach through regular social media posts, captivating website, streamlining an effective email marketing strategy for your business, and paid advertisement to establish a robust and healthy digital presence.
Use Branded Content To Grasp Audience
Branded content is another creative way to attract customers attention, even if you’re targeting local audiences. Branded content is different from content marketing that aims to sell a specific product or service. Therefore, it is designed to achieve that aim by ignoring building an EAT among its audience. Branded content strategy, on the contrary, builds trust around the business through providing expert insights, perspectives, and solutions about same industry problems and customers’ pain points without making the whole content about the business and its sales.
Integrate Guest Posting Into Your Content Marketing Strategy
An effective way to get your brand a prominent presence on digital platforms is to master off-page SEO and one of its most effective elements, guest posting. The most important thing when it comes to competing with industry giants is to let people talk about your business, and let them talk positively. Republishing your top-performing content on other websites and creating compelling and valuable guest content helps you gain more reach and visibility among their audiences. However, you must choose the websites carefully as one post on a poorly performing website might also affect your overall performance.
Add Infographics To Make Your Content Stand Out
Visuals have a powerful impact on the human experience and infographics can make a lasting effect on the audiences.
Infographics are considered the powerhouse of the content that makes marketing exciting and helps in brand building through visual appeal. Moreover, it improves user experience with more information in fewer words while increasing your chances to rank higher in google image search results. Hire a competent graphic designing services provider who can help you design infographics aligned with your business goals and target audience intent.
Hold a Social Media Contest
Hold a special social media contest for your followers where they have to interact with your brand not just by liking your post but to submit a special entry to participate. Deciding winners based on public voting will further increase your brand reach among relevant audiences. However, this strategy might only work initially when your goal is to reach more people and is awareness oriented. Once you have a significant audience, your business goals may change to attracting and converting your audience. In that case, your social media contest should be carefully designed to attract a specific audience segment that has more potential to convert than the general audience.
Use Personalised Email Marketing
Grow your email list like crazy to stay ahead in the competition. Email marketing is the best way to build a connection with prospective customers.
By sending personalised emails with relevant content to your customers will keep them updated and engaged. Nurturing your prospects can get you more leads than targeting new audiences. Therefore, you need to have an effective email marketer onboard who can design personalised emails aligned with different stages of the customer journey.
Build An Effective Customer Loyalty Program:
As mentioned before, retaining existing customers is easier than acquiring new ones, and as you nurture your prospects through email marketing, you can offer your prospects and existing customers a loyalty program to build brand trust. Offering rewards, discounts, and special offers help you establish a strong emotional bond with your loyal customers hence more leads and sales.
Focus On Remarketing Campaigns
Remarketing your business products and services will help you target a more relevant and well-segmented audience. Remarketing uses ads to engage the old customers or the people that have once visited the website but did not convert. It is crucial to have a specialised remarketing expert for your business who can efficiently track the customer journey and user flow on the website to design remarketing campaigns accordingly.
Promote Your Business Through Google’s Paid Advertising Program
Google Adwords is a powerful tool for online business marketing as it is the world’s largest advertising platform. So, if you want to compete with the big brands, promote your business through paid google ads. Google Adwords puts your business at a significant advantage, so;
Use different customised ad formats and features to reach your online marketing goals.
Add keywords related to the search item in your advertisement. So, people find your products and services easily.
Post ads on different social channels to target specific audiences.
Use PPC or pay per click advertisement as it is another cost-effective tactic to avoid spending too much on paid ads.
Being a startup or small business is challenging as the business competition has become more daunting in the digital space. Even if you do not have many resources compared to established brands, integrating cost-effective yet innovative ideas can work wonders for you and your own business. Applying the most business-relevant and growth-focused business tactics in your digital marketing campaigns is crucial.
What tactics do you use for your business to get ahead of your competition?
About The Author
Hasnain is a Senior Marketing Associate at Abubble. Besides writing for Abubble, Hasnain is helping elevate brands with his creative and innovative approach to Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing, SEO Content Writing and Graphic Designing. In his leisure time, Hasnain is usually seen on Twitter supporting Manchester United or in a park at a bench with his new favourite book.