Two Ways to Defeat Existing Competitors

Roughly speaking, the market or product you pick does make a difference in how big the business can be and how quickly it will grow, but there are so many really great markets that this is not a big limitation.

The real trick to early success is in finding a competitive advantage that you can exploit right away. You will find this in primarily one of two places: either the market or yourself.

The market will often have “holes” in it because competitors have a tendency to all do the same thing, or approach the market the same way, often because they are gauging their approaches by looking at each other. This can create an opportunity where there may be traffic sources, special offers or marketing techniques that are not in widespread use by the top competition.

As an outsider, you may actually be better qualified at finding these than people already in the market. It’s the classic case of forgetting, once you find yourself wrestling alligators, that the original mission was to drain the swamp! So by all means look at your competition, but also look at the market and you may find an approach no one else is using.

The other big source of leverage is the different skill set you can bring that existing competitors may not have. In some markets, you’ll find the competition is simply not as good at online marketing in general or in some particular specialty than is the case in other markets.

If you have the better on-line game, you can rule a market by simply doing the same thing the competition is trying to do, but do it better. This is a “frontal assault”, so you’ll have to bring either a lot better skill, a lot more cash, or both to win against entrenched competitors. If that’s too much to ask, then look for a “flanking maneuver”.

For example, for those of who sell information products, we have highly developed the skill of building a list through giving away free information and then converting the folks on that list to customers via email promotions. Could you apply those techniques in some other market to create a competitive advantage? Likely so, and this is not a common model in most markets. By taking a completely different marketing approach you essentially bypass your competitors and access the market in a different manner.

Sometimes you don’t have to get that creative. Look for the traffic sources or outlets where the big players are weakest. By getting some early success, you save a bunch of cash that you can spend on growth later and you do it generally out of sight of your real competition.

Figure out where your strengths lie and find a market where those strengths will create the greatest competitive advantage and go get it.

– Leslie

Comments

  1. I never see e-commerce sites offer free information to build their list. I even mentioned this to Perry Marshall on his blog once… I guess it’s not a bad idea to create some free report about my industry/product and offer that to visitors.

    I didn’t think the transactional nature of e-commerce warranted building an email list.

    • An ecommerce business is the *best* type of business to have a list. There are two absolutely irrefutable facts about selling that make list building a natural for any store.

      (1) It generally takes multiple impressions of a message to get a prospect to a buying decision.

      A web store is only “transactional” at the point in time the prospect finds you in a “wallet out” frame of mind. Until then, they are still in decision mode and while they may look at your site, if you do not engage with them short of making the sale, you risk not having them come back.

      If you can give them something that extends your contact with them, you increase the likelihood that their eyes are on you when they reach a buying state.

      (2) Acquiring a new customer is far more expensive than selling more to an existing customer.

      Do you have a list of your customers? Are you trying to sell them again or sell them related products? You have already done the hard part of getting them to spend the first dollar with you. The second sale is 6 – 8 times easier.

  2. Your answer confirms my suspicions. I just can’t reconcile why huge e-commerce sites don’t try to get my email address as aggressively as affiliate sites do. They’ll offer all kinds of free reports to get my email address. Maybe because info products are a tougher sell, so they try to build my trust by emailing me valuable info first…

    But pure e-commerce sites like a2armory.com, myweddingfavors.com, and other highly “SEO’d” sites like opticsplanet.com barely try to get my email.

    • Most market leaders achieve their success through a subset of the techniques that are available and we all get complacent at some level of success. Taken together, these create a vulnerability. If you are a market leader — take heed, everyone else — this is how you unseat them.

      Probably the most basic tenet of warfare is do not commit to a frontal assault on a stronger opponent. So it is with marketing. Find the “flanking maneuver” where you can create early success and build a “war chest” before your attack is even discovered.

      The concept is easy: find those places where your customers are common and your competitor is not.

      This is their “blind side” (they may have more than one). Get good where they are not; accumulate cash; and assault the front!

    • Most market leaders achieve their success through a subset of the techniques that are available, and we all get complacent at some level of success, which is what creates a vulnerability. If you are a market leader — take heed, everyone else — this is how you unseat them.

      Probably the most basic tenet of warfare is do not commit to a frontal assault on a stronger opponent. So it is with marketing. Find the “flanking maneuver” where you can create early success and build a “war chest” before your attack is even discovered.

      The concept is easy: find those places where your customers are common and your competitor is not.

      This is their “blind side” (they may have more than one). Get good where they are not; accumulate cash; and assault the front!

  3. Most market leaders achieve their success through a subset of the techniques that are available, and we all get complacent at some level of success, which is what creates a vulnerability. If you are a market leader — take heed, everyone else — this is how you unseat them.

    Probably the most basic tenet of warfare is do not commit to a frontal assault on a stronger opponent. So it is with marketing. Find the “flanking maneuver” where you can create early success and build a “war chest” before your attack is even discovered.

    The concept is easy: find those places where your customers are common and your competitor is not.

    This is their “blind side” (they may have more than one). Get good where they are not; accumulate cash; and assault the front!