When you are running a small business or a startup, you have to spend heavily on marketing to reach the same customers that your competitors are already targeting.
How does a small warrior compete against well-established companies whose team size and budget can easily dwarf yours? These are 5 ways that startups can focus their resources and compete against big companies with deep pockets.
1. Stick to your niche.
There’s an old saying that goes “You can do anything, but not everything,” which is true for bigger players as well. So, choosing a profitable niche is the secret sauce for startup success.
For example, for a decade, Google watched startups like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others compete against each other without even taking Google’s own efforts into considerations. Google tried Google Videos, Orkut, Google+, Buzz, Knol, Wave and many tools under various categories.
But they kept coming back to search for revenue, so there is a lesson to be learnt here.
To be fair, Android’s growth as a mobile OS is lapping iOS, Windows and all other operating systems. There’s also Google Chrome’s major success in the browser wars, and also Drive, G-Suite (docs, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.) But their main cashcow continues and will continue to remain search and display ads through Google Adwords.
Use these 6 free tools to research and find a profitable niche for your startup:
- Google Keyword Planner (Free)
- Google Trends (Free)
- Facebook and Twitter’s audience Insights tools
- Ubersuggest (Free)
- Solve (Free)
2. Speed up the execution process.
Since the operations of large companies are broad and complex, the execution process will be slow just like a ship with a heavy load on it. SMEs depend on other SMEs and startups to get things done quickly. Hence, speed of execution and the workload are the key to a nimble startup’s success.
Use these tools for project management and speedy execution:
- Slack (Free and Premium)
- Asana (Free and Premium)
- G-suite (Premium)
- CRM Tools (Free and Premium)
- Scoro (Premium)
- Proofhub (Premium)
- WORKZONE (Premium)
3. Go for the grey area.
Technologies, regulations and consumer preferences change so fast and often these days that there are vast opportunities in areas that large and risk-averse companies don’t venture into. Startups can get into those areas, take some risk, and come out ahead of their most established competitors.
For example, GST was introduced on 1st July 2017. This was an opportunity for startups offering legal and financial advisory services to offer GST services, explain how it works, the online application process, forms, advantages and disadvantages, etc. Read more about the impact of GST on Indian startups.
4. Play like the underdog.
The media likes underdogs, and will happily give you free coverage and write a rags to riches story. So being a likeable underdog startup founder is good PR. It’s more interesting to read about Paytm Founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s story than a large profile of Paytm.
As a startup, there are 5 ways to get free media coverage.
- Join Yomillio.
- Publish press releases regularly.
- Reach out to media contributors and journalists who cover your industry and vertical.
- Participate in local startup events.
- Maintain a strong social media presence and engage industry influencers on Twitter and LinkedIn.
5. Offer exceptional customer service.
When you are a startup, you are a small fish in a big pond, but you still have to compete with the sharks. At this point, the advantage of being a nimble startup with a fast decision making process is that you can offer exceptional customer service to each and every single customer.
Even though large companies do offer exceptional customer service, their operations are complex, time consuming and often struggle to offer the authentic and instantaneous one-on-one help and support that startups can deliver to their customers.
- Use instant response tools like LUCEP to respond quickly to customer queries.
- Take advantage of Facebook and other review sites where people can easily rate and offer feedback on your service.
- Use Twitter to provide instant response to social mentions and customer support requests.
- Create an FAQ section on your website – it’s a win-win for both customers and startup founders.
- Use customer feedback to improve customer service.
- Reward customers for reviews, app ratings and their loyalty.
To sum up, there are five ways that startups can outsmart big companies. It is the choice to focus on a niche, the strategy and speed of execution, the ability to differentiate yourself and your company from the competition and the kind of customer service that you offer your customers that separates startups from established companies.