How A Tiny Business Can Beat Big Competitors

Part 2

This is part two of a 3 part series on how to beat your competition.

The purpose of the series is to give you 3 strategies that you can use to gain an advantage in the marketplace, and ultimately get customers to choose you over competitors.

These strategies are meant for small companies, even one person, that are at a resource disadvantage compared to their competitors.

Part 1 contains the introduction to the series, and the first strategy: counter-positioning.

Choose a Target You Can Conquer

One obvious, but hardly practiced, business principle is to fight wars that you can win. Conceptually, this sounds easy. Yet, so many people think their enthusiasm or some other intangible measure is the resource needed to succeed in their business.

Enthusiasm or energy or work ethic are not sufficient equalizers. They won’t help you win a battle otherwise un-winnable.

Become the ONLY in a sea of many

Winning in a business context means becoming a category leader. Category leaders are essentially kings of the hill with a fortress. They are highly profitable because of the leverage they have as leaders, and wildly stable because it’s hard to dethrone them.

Many people used to believe that the net result of category leaders being so hard to beat would cause marketplaces to become stagnant. Essentially leaving monopolies and oligopolies to rule the market and thus our lives.

What came to be true was what Al Reis in his book The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing called the Law of Division. The law of division is essentially the ability for an entrepreneur to come into a market and divide it into segments and become the leader of a particular segment.

For us, this means the answer is a divide-and-conquer strategy.

Create a new category, in which you can be the leader if you aren’t already. How this plays out practically is essentially making your target smaller and smaller until you are either the leader of the category or the only person in it.

For example, if you’re a digital marketing agency, you’re competing in a huge battlefield. If you decide to narrow down to an email marketing agency, the competitive forces get smaller. If you then narrow down to E-commerce automated sales emails, you’re probably getting to a place where you can actually create a list of your direct competitors.

But, you’re not getting onto something until you’re doing Abandon Cart E-commerce email marketing for female founders who use Shopify and are in the BossBabe online community.

That is a category small enough that you can dominate it with very little resources. And it sets you up for the next part.

Find the smallest viable audience

Many have heard of or read Kevin Kelly’s famous “1,000 True Fans” essay. If you haven’t, I highly recommend it. In it, he essentially breaks down the concept I’ve heard called in other places around your smallest viable audience.

Identifying your smallest viable audience is the key to simple and effective marketing. It forces you to stop trying to market to everyone and instead be specific.

If you were selling software that costs $39 a month, you only need 2,000 customers to make $936,000 per year.

That’s not necessarily easy, but to accomplish that you would likely only need a total addressable market (the total amount of potential customers in existence) of around 10,000 to pull that off.

Meaning you only need to promote your company to the same 10,000 over and over again to turn 2,000 of them into customers.

Another trick is to land on a target audience that is easy to find and identify online. Maybe they are all on a particular subreddit, Facebook group, niche website, Slack group, discord, location, etc… If they are easy to identify as part of your audience then they are generally very easy to market to.

If you cannot create a spreadsheet and fill it with the exact 10,000 people you would like to have as customers you are probably not being specific enough with your category and/or your smallest viable audience.

Think Like a Campaigner

Once you’ve widdled down your category until you are either the leader or the only one in it, and identified and documented your smallest viable audience all you have to do is tell each of those people what you’re unique value proposition and you’ll have created plenty of marketing momentum.

Will one run-through of DMing or texting that list going to get you the 2,000 customers? No, but it will get you many. Enough to create significant momentum.

The best is to do what Real Estate agents call farming. That’s when they pick 1 or 2 neighborhoods to target (smallest viable audience), then bit by bit they earn the branding as the go-to realtor in that neighborhood.

They don’t do that by sending a mailer and hoping someone uses them. They instead start by knocking on doors and introducing themselves. Maybe they just saw hi, maybe they have a short conversation.

As they get through more and more of the list, building relationships and learning about each prospect they can pinpoint where their next deal is going to come from.

Maybe you figured out Sally’s husband is looking for a better job in a different city. The realtor that knows that information has a much easier time getting a deal.

You should treat your efforts the same. No, this isn’t a ‘scalable’ marketing tactic. But scalable isn’t everything in marketing. This is grassroots, and it is a much more effective approach than most growth hacks or building a social media following or doing SEO.

By effective I mean it actually works even though it’s annoyingly simple and requires zero marketing knowledge.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, if your marketing is not easy, you’re not thinking small enough.

We are constantly sieged by advice to grow our social media channels, email lists, blogs, and youtube channels. But that is just a small segment of all the viable marketing tactics out there.

Don’t get caught up in thinking you don’t have the budget or following to market your product. That’s not what’s required. All that’s required is that you think for yourself and position yourself well.

Once you do that, by simply reaching out to perfect customers will be enough to create real momentum.

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