There are many ways a scrappy startup can outshine other businesses.
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You need to be aware of your competition, because they’re trying to take your market share, but the key to domination is to focus on your business and the things that differentiate you from them. Most businesses struggle and fail because they try to copy their competition. Yet they do a poor job explaining why their product or service is better.
You can do better than that. Market leaders are slow to change, while you have the power to adapt quickly and get creative.
The principles I’m going to share with you here will help you dominate the competition. You can use them to get ahead at any point, and they’re especially helpful when you’re first making a name for yourself.
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1. Outspend your competition with social currency.
If you can’t outspend your competition with real currency, do it with social currency instead.
For example, I recently met with a coaching client who owns an exotic car racing company based in Las Vegas. His main competitors are spending about $100,000 a month on Google ads. That means Google ads won’t help him at this point, since he can’t outspend his competition. He asked me what he could do to draw traffic to his business instead.
I told him to find 10 influencers on Instagram and Facebook with 200,000 or more followers who fit his ideal customer demographics. Then, I told him to invite them to come out to his track and get the full experience for free. Now, he just needs to film a video with each of those influencers and ask them to share it with their followers, encouraging them to visit his business.
That’s thousands of dollars worth of organic traffic without spending an extra penny. You can use this same tactic in your business. Trust me: It works for any business, any industry.
2. Find the gap and fill it.
There’s a gap in your industry. It could be a pricing gap, or a niche your industry has ignored, or a gap in the level of service provided.
For example, look at men’s suits. You can go down to your local department store and get a decent-fitting suit for a couple hundred dollars. Or, you can get a custom-tailored suit for seven or eight thousand dollars. Can you see the gap there?
I get my custom suits from a company called b.spoke. They found the pricing gap and filled it with a brilliant new business model. See, a personal tailor, who’s a one-man shop can only work on one suit at a time. To stay in business, he needs to charge a premium on his time, which is why it’s so expensive to get a custom suit. At b.spoke, they bring swatches to your home or office, take your measurements and then send all that info over to a separate tailoring company to get the suits made.
That allows them to charge about $3,000 pert suit, bringing the cost of a custom suit down by 50 percent. It also allows me to get a lot more custom-made suits at once. If you can find that same sweet spot of lower pricing and higher sales volume, you can create rapid growth for your business. Just look for the vacuum in your industry and fill the gap.
Related: Don’t Let the Big Guys Shut You Down
3. Become an influencer in your industry.
While you’re reaching out to influencers, why not become influencer yourself? Influencers get all kinds of free exposure and exclusive opportunities. Imagine what it would do for your business to have that same access.
It’s simpler than you think. You just need to put out consistent content in your area of expertise where you share your best advice.
For example, I noticed that nobody had claimed franchising as their No. 1 topic. It was this dry, boring thing happening in the background of all these other industries. I’ve learned a ton about franchising by building up Fit Body Boot Camp to an international franchise with almost 600 locations. Now, I share what I’ve learned over Facebook Live, YouTube and other social media platforms, effectively making myself the industry authority.
And, of course, this is all content you can create, too.
4. Look outside your industry.
Western Dental is crushing right now, even though there are more people with dental insurance than ever before. Why? It hires dentists straight out of grad school and offers them experience in the business for lower-end pay, which lets them keep their costs low.
Could you keep your own costs low by hiring talent right out of school? Probably, but there’s an even deeper lesson here. Don’t get tunnel vision in your own industry. There are innovative ideas in other industries you could copy into your own business.
Plus, when you adapt a technique or strategy from another industry, you get to be first. You get to be the first person in your industry running with that idea, which means you get to reap the greatest benefit from it.
By the way, you can learn just as much from the failures in other industries as you can from successes. For example, there’s a certain frozen yogurt chain that’s been struggling for the last few years, even though they were the first to popularize the dessert. What went wrong? It started with the idea of classy, modern frozen yogurt shop, but then it stopped there. It proved the concept, but it left open the door for copycats to set up the same basic business without buying into the brand.
You can protect your franchise from copycats by adding a “secret sauce” or always innovating faster than the others can copy. This can be done-for-you marketing with an exclusive celebrity endorsement or anything else that makes your brand unique.
And that leads directly into my last tip …
5. Get people talking by creating an experience.
If you see a good movie, you don’t ask for a refund, but you certainly don’t go telling everyone else about it. If you see a great movie, you tell your friends to go see it. This same principle applies to any business in any industry.
Most business owners and entrepreneurs make this one deadly mistake. They try to meet the expectations of their market. Meeting expectations makes you forgettable. You need to exceed the expectations of your market so that they can’t help talking about you.
Imagine for a moment you go to that guy’s track and drive some exotic cars. You’ll have fun, but experience is no different than going to the next exotic racing company down the road.
Now imagine this instead. You drive five laps around the track, and then the instructor asks you for your phone. When you ask why, he explains that he’s going to start filming a video and then set your phone down on the track. That means your own phone is going to film you while you drive the car inches away from it.
That’s an experience worth talking about! That has drama, tension and excitement. Best of all, it creates a piece of social proof customer can upload to YouTube and other social media platforms as soon as she gets back home.
Think about how you can create a story in your business. What can you do to create a moment of drama and excitement for your client or customer? What can you give them to take home that will anchor the memory of your business in their mind and remind them to share the experience with everyone they know? Find that answer, and you’ll have the key to rapidly growing your business empire.