Stand Out in the Crowd

Startups are being launched ten to the dozen. Many of them are coming out with fantastic and innovative products and services. How many of these are actually successful and make a mark? How many Amazons, Ubers and Facebooks do you know about? When you do a search you will come across hundreds of ventures that you have never heard of. Will your startup end up like these hundreds of unknown ventures?

It is all very well to build a great product or service that targets a pain point in the market. With the consumer scenario today, I do not believe in the adage .If you build it, they will come. I would more readily accept if you say

If you build it, there is a market for it. Which goes on to say that you have to find the customers for your product or service or further still create the market for your product or service.

People are in such a hurry to launch their product or business that they seldom look at marketing from a bird’s eye view and they don’t create a systematic plan.Dave Ramsey

Marketing as defined in BusinessDictionary.com is .The management process through which goods and services move from concept to the customer. Many of us mistakenly equate marketing to selling. They are two entirely different concepts as Theodore C. Levitt, retired professor of marketing, Harvard Business School expressly stated: Selling concerns itself with the tricks and techniques of getting people to exchange their cash for your product. It is not concerned with the values that the exchange is all about. And it does not, as marketing invariable does, view the entire business process as consisting of a tightly integrated effort to discover, create, arouse and satisfy customer needs. In other words, selling is the process of getting a customer to purchase a product/service. Marketing is the process of creating a demand for a product/service and fulfilling that demand. Another way of looking at it is marketing tells customers that they need tooth paste to take care of their teeth. When customers come looking to purchase tooth paste you sell them Brand T of tooth paste.

The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself. Peter Drucker

For your information, there are four key elements in marketing, called the 4 P’s of marketing:
1. Product/service: Identification, selection and development of a product/service
2. Price: Determination of its price
3. Place (Distribution): Selection of a distribution channel to reach the customer
4. Promotional strategy: Development and implementation of a promotional strategy

You are in a disruptive business and hence will need additional tools and avenues for your marketing strategies, particularly related to online marketing. This has resulted in a rethink on the 4 P’s and refocuses the emphasis from products/services to Solutions, place to Access, price to Value and promotion to Education, thus forming the acronym “SAVE”. Taking advantage of the technological benefits provided by the internet, Ren’e suggests six aspects to address:
1. Your foundation should be built around fail-safe strategies.
2. Use social media to its fullest potential to reach out to prospective customers and entice them to visit your website.
3. Position your product/service and create a strong public relations campaign around it.
4. Carefully create the content for your website, blogs, emails, newsletters etc.
5. Track the performance of your website and set up systems for continuous improvement.
6. Identify industry best practices and selectively adopt those that will support your business.

You will be wondering what all this has got to do with the title of this blog “Stand Out in the Crowd”.

*If everybody is doing it one way, there’s a good chance you can find your niche by going exactly in the opposite direction. Sam Walton

Going in the opposite direction is not what you should aim for, but you can always find your niche. That will make you stand out in the crowd. The art is in defining your target market as narrowly as possible. Take for example M&M and Maruti Suzuki, both manufacture automobiles. While M&M predominantly manufactures SUVs, Maruti’s target market is budget-oriented buyers.

Niche marketing does not necessarily project you as the only enterprise in that market. It puts you in a situation where the competition is limited and you may be viewed as one of the big players. Of course, niche marketing presents some risk, foremost among them is the limited revenue source. Nevertheless, this should not dampen your enthusiasm as the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

I found quite a few articles by Ryan Gum on marketing that you may find useful. You will find a long list of his articles, so carefully pick and read those that will be of value to you. (The link to the main article is mentioned in the references).

REFERENCES:

1. Wikipedia. Marketing mix. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marketing_mix
2. Richard Ettenson, Eduardo Conrado and Jonathan Knowles. Rethinking the 4 P’s. 2013. https://hbr.org/2013/01/rethinking-the-4-ps
3. Ren’e Warren. The Ultimate Guide to Startup Marketing. 2012. https://blog.kissmetrics.com/ultimate-guide-startup-marketing/
4. Entrepreneur Staff. 7 Steps to Defining Your Niche Market. 2014. http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/240163
5. Geoff Fripp. Niche Marketing. 2015. http://www.segmentationstudyguide.com/understanding-target-markets/niche-marketing/
6. Ryan Gum. Learn about marketing strategy, customer acquisition, and growth for startups. https://ryangum.com/