Unless a company can bring something truly novel to market, there’s a good chance that a new business will face stern competition from rivals and caution from consumers. It happened to Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer in 1901 and to a young Richard Branson in the 1960s – it happens to everyone. Finding a way to stand out in a hostile market is, therefore, the acid test for every budding entrepreneur.
Here are just few easy and non-intrusive ways to create an endearing proposition for modern consumers:
Offer Something Unique
Innovation is a rare thing; consequently, it’s not a pre-requisite of a successful business. There are plenty of brands out there whose entire customer offering is lower prices or a larger range of goods than their competitors. However, in sectors starved of variety, offering a unique product, payment method, or delivery option can help a business stand out.
For instance, in the UK, Argos is the only retailer to offer same-day delivery nationwide, while several online brands, especially in the casino industry, favour small but significant experience enhancers like provably fair odds (websites supporting Bitcoin transactions), leaderboards, friends lists, and other social features.
As an iGaming website that creates all its slot machine games in-house, mFortune is a good example of the above. A British brand, mFortune champions a unique payment method (it’s a pay by phone casino that lets players defer payments to the end of the month) in addition to the staple options like PayPal, MasterCard, and Visa.
Engage with Customers
Social media has turned even the most secretive business into a more public entity; in fact, brands that don’t have Facebook or Twitter accounts are conspicuous outsiders in a world of 24hr, always-online media. Social platforms give companies the opportunity to respond to questions and complaints in public. It’s a great way to communicate strong customer service skills to a large audience with minimal investment.
Social media is just one option for interacting with customers though – get creative. If a user base has opted-in to marketing materials, try sending them a newsletter with advice, relevant products, or unique opinions. Setting up a blog or even a podcast can deliver much the same messages. A varied approach can also get multiple, different audiences on-board.
Make sure everything adds value to a customers’ experience; infographics and personalised marketing are both great tools for any business to use but indiscriminate lists of products and irrelevant information are big turn-offs for consumers.
Research and Connect
Highly promotional material has quite a limited audience so focus instead on creating content that has relevance to suppliers, news outlets, and other non-competitors. After all, people are far more likely to share a travel company’s informative article about Switzerland than one purely about the price of its new holidays in the country.
It’s also worth building relationships with influential people and businesses in relevant niches. Being able to “borrow” a respected voice for a newsletter can add gravitas to a brand’s message and engender trust with consumers. Alternatively, try to get a mention on a popular website by writing a guest post or producing an infographic.
There’s a lot to be said for researching what competitors are doing too. A brand struggling to appeal to a younger demographic can learn a lot about itself by looking at rivals that excel at snaring millennial attention; it might be a simple design issue or an austere tone of voice that’s turning customers away.
As a closing point, the above advice won’t work for every business out there but there’s no reason why appealing to new customers has to involve a heavy financial outlay or an about-face on a detailed business plan. When used properly, good content in particular is an inexpensive way to drum up new support and rally lapsed fans.