the 1950s, there has been an explosion in the products and services on
offer. There is nothing consumers can’t buy and there is nothing new
businesses can offer. This is a world of saturation and commoditisation.
So, what next? If this conventional wisdom is correct and every
conceivable market has been taken, how can you gain market share from
the incumbents? This is the nagging preoccupation of every busy
Here are seven steps to steal market share from your competition.
Step 1: Act with a spy’s stealth.
If your market is competitive, you need to understand who you’re up
against. Each rival will be slightly different and you need to know
their relative strengths and weaknesses, variations in business models
employed and longevity in the field. Without this basic information, you
are on a journey without a map.
Step 2: Start with painstaking product design. Dare to offer difference.
To steal market share from your competition, you then take the
information you have about them and dare to be different. This is no
time for busy entrepreneurs to be queasy. You are trying to dislodge the
enemy from its hilltop fortress. Only unexpected and bold action will
give you a chance. Focus on any one or all of the following product
design elements: benefits, price, cost, niche, brand and customer
experience. Dream anything which answers: “What would make my customers call their friends to spread the word?” or “What would my customers find genuinely breathtaking?” Factor in customer satisfaction from the beginning.
Step 3: Abandon your instincts. Test, test and retest.
Typically, entrepreneurs trust their instincts, are impatient for
results and cost conscious. These traits, normally central to success,
can lead to an unintended mistake when trying to take market share.
Firstly, confident entrepreneurs with strong egos and belief in their
instincts can overlook the need for testing. Secondly, testing sounds
like a costly impediment to results-hungry entrepreneurs with an itch
for fame. My advice: test. Check your instincts. It doesn’t need to cost
a cent and can even be done in a day. Simply tell ten people in your
target market about your idea. You’ll be surprised what they say. Yes,
ten is enough and probably far better than most businesses launched.
Step 4: Differentiate with gusto. Attack with vigour.
Write your marketing material to emphasise your difference. Don’t be
coy or shy. Make this point of contrast immediately and boldly. Don’t be
afraid to contrast your offering with that of your #1 rival. In fact,
go for glory. Be cheeky and ambitious by trying to dislodge the glamour
brand in your industry. If I were a betting man, I’d guess it would take
your incumbent months or even years to respond directly to your
guerrilla tactics. In the meantime, you’re already eroding their market
Step 5: Obsess about your promise. Deliver and fulfil.
Having designed, tested and hyper-marketed, you need to actually
deliver on your promise. Without fulfilment, your new brand is dead.
Remember, you have to dislodge the incumbent from his hilltop fortress.
Step 6: Let curiosity drive marketing experimentation. Record the results.
Differentiation requires constant attention, reassessment and
adjustment. Experiment with your promotion, focusing on message then
media. Do your prospects respond to greed or fear? Which angles are
best? Do they respond better when urgency is applied? If so, which angle
is most effective? With media, you have a whole armoury at your
disposal: comprehensive direct marketing campaigns, outdoor signs,
radio, affiliate programs, samples, SEO, word-of-mouth, TV, social
media, magazine advertisements. When you find a message and medium which
resonates, repeat it. Adapt messages to remain fresh and sharp.
Finally, record the findings of your experiments with the meticulous
care and curiosity of a clinical trial.
Step 7: Evangelise and celebrate customer satisfaction. Covert the world.
Once you have customers, continue talking with them. Ask how they
heard about you so you know what’s working. If you have happy customers,
here’s a simple technique to wed them to you and build another
promotional opportunity: ask them for a testimonial. You can ask for a
verbal testimonial, an email, letter, audio or even video. Whatever you
do, ask customers to help you share your message with the world. Even
better, simultaneously have your customers talk about how easy it was to
switch to you whilst offering prospects incentives to switch. Above
all, celebrate customer satisfaction and evangelise the benefits they’ve