There was a time when entering a saturated market was likely to spell disaster for a new, unknown brand.
But today, that’s no longer the case. Paradoxically, as the internet has made it possible for more new businesses than ever to enter the market, it’s also made it possible for more of them than ever to thrive — even if they’re competing against big, established brands.
That doesn’t mean it’s a given, however, that your business will make it. There’s some finesse that goes into succeeding in a saturated market. Here are a few tips.
Be true to your brand
Your mission, values, brand voice, brand personality, customer service — if you’re in a saturated market, it’s these things that will differentiate you from your competitors. You may be selling the same or similar product as your competitors, but you aren’t selling it in exactly the same way.
So zero in on what makes your company different. Do you donate a percentage of sales to a charity? Do you have a highly entertaining Instagram presence?
For one apparel company in Texas, Tees2UrDoor, the thing that sets them apart is their customer service. “When you lower your standards one time, it goes downhill from there,” says co-owner Maccie Varnados. “Then you lower them a little each time. Perfection isn’t always noticed, but the absence of perfection always is.”
Tees2UrDoor should know, as they’ve been in business producing and printing t-shirts since 2001. They’ve established a loyal following in their hometown of Nederland, Texas, by listening to their customers, adapting their business as those customers’ wants and needs have evolved. At the moment, those wants and needs center around customization — monograms, custom designs, and custom messaging.
That focus on listening and customer service has worked. Tees2UrDoor has been steadily growing their customer base since they launched their website as a small team back in 2013. Today, they have a 20,000 square foot retail and production facility, as well as a full staff, and they’ve continued to serve an important role in their community. During the recent disastrous winter storms, they offered 60 percent discounts on all kinds of winter items so customers could stock up.
Find the gap in the market
While your market may be saturated, there’s almost always a gap that needs to be filled — you just have to find it.
For most businesses, that will mean first assessing your own strengths. What are you particularly good at? Do you have a logistics background that means you know how to fill orders fast and accurately? Do you have contacts in another country which would make it easy for you to expand into that region? Is your web designer also able to create an app which would streamline the purchase process for your customers?
When you identify the skills or advantages you have, you’re better able to see how they can be used to fill an existing void.
Take Cheetah Digital, a customer engagement suite for marketers that helps brands turn customer data into personalized customer experiences. Now, there are plenty of customer engagement tools available, and many that offer the same sorts of tools — data capture, email campaigns, and customer journey design, for example.
Cheetah Digital, however, is filling a gap by offering all these services in easy-to-use, a la carte packages, plus a Customer Loyalty program that can help brands gain even more value out of those services.
Now, some businesses will be able to first identify the gap, and then find a way to fill it — this approach can work, for example, for serial entrepreneurs who are experienced in starting and running a business. But for most brands, it makes a lot more sense to work the other way around.
Anticipate change in your industry
Industries change and evolve all the time, whether because of legislation, changes in customer behavior, new technology, etc.
Most companies will be satisfied staying comfortably where they are: in the present, doing things the way they’ve always done them.
But a few will always be on the lookout for what’s to come. By anticipating trends, keeping an eye on new technologies that are in development, and generally thinking about how your industry will evolve over the next year or five years, you can push your brand to the front of your industry.
A great example of this is the restaurant tech company OneDine. OneDine developed its app-based restaurant ordering system a few years ago, because they saw that that’s where the industry was heading.
They were far ahead of the restaurant industry as a whole, and over the first couple of years, they grew at a steady pace. Then 2020 hit, and suddenly, every restaurant needed a way for customers to order and pay for their food online.
Now, OneDine didn’t foresee the pandemic, obviously, but they could see how customer behavior was changing and they hopped on the trend before nearly anyone else.
And while it’s true that some customers won’t be ready to come along with you when you anticipate trends like that, some will — and when the others finally catch up, you’ll be ready and waiting to serve them.
Succeeding in a saturated market is entirely possible. You just have to know your brand, look for the market gaps, and keep an eye on the horizon.
What are some of your favorite tips for business success? Comment below!