How Do Small Businesses Compete in Competitive Niches?
Having your business isn’t just tough, it’s also extremely competitive — no matter what niche market you might find yourself falling into. This is especially true for small businesses breaking into major industries that find themselves up against some tough competition, in both offline and online markets. Without a large following or backing, it can be difficult to penetrate the market.
However, there are ways you can put your business’s best foot forward set yourself apart from your competitors. Just because you don’t have a multimillion dollar budget (yet) doesn’t mean it’s time to throw in the white flag. If you’re passionate about creating great products and services and putting in the work to see your brand grow, you’re already on the right path.
Here’s how small businesses like yours can compete in competitive niches:
Work With Micro Influencers
On average, a business will see a $6.50 ROI for every dollar they invest in influencer marketing. Micro influencers typically have anywhere between 1,000 to 50K followers, compared to the 500,000K+ that macro influencers tend to have. But there are key differences between these groups.
There are several reasons micro influencer strategies are particularly beneficial for small businesses. For starters, studies have shown that micro influencers have a much higher engagement, because they are able to better manage their follower base through genuine connections. And according to Collective Bias, non-celebrity influencers are 10x more likely to drive in-store purchases than their celeb counterparts.
The report also went on to state the following:
- Nearly 60% of survey respondents have taken a blog review or social media post viewed on a smartphone or tablet into consideration while shopping in-store.
- One in five men (18.3%) have had blog reviews influence in-store purchases, compared to only one in 10 women (9.2%) who have done the same.
- U.S. male consumers (34.4%) have purchased consumer electronics in-store about twice as often as women (15.4%) as a result of reading a blog review or social media post.
- Only 2% of respondents checked Twitter first when researching products, and less than 2% said Twitter had the most influence on their decision to complete an in-store purchase.
- About 19% of consumers Find Facebook to influence their purchasing decision most, with YouTube coming in second at nearly 18%. YouTube is especially popular with men (22.8%) compared to women (13.9%).
And it’s not just genuine connections and high engagement rates you’re after: micro influencers are pretty cost-effective, too. Many micro influencers will publish curated content for the cost of a free product or service, while others charge in the low-hundreds range.
Leverage SEO and Reach New Audiences
Many business owners understand the benefits of search engine optimization, but don’t know how to accurately implement it. The truth is, there’s much more to SEO than incorporating keywords into meta tags, titles, and content. To stay competitive, your business needs a strategy that starts before you even begin putting copy onto the page. Thorough industry and competitor keyword research is needed, and it should be exclusive to your niche.
For example, if you owned plastic surgery practice, you’d want to hire an agency that specializes in plastic surgeon SEO. A niche agency would be able to create copy that’s most relevant and proven in your field. As a plastic surgeon, you wouldn’t want to hire an SEO contractor whose roster of past clients includes a long list of fashion retailers.
As referenced eWebResults, these are optimal goals when focusing on SEO and organic reach:
- Reach the first page of search results for “Plastic Surgery Houston”
- Generate 10 new client leads each month
- Identify the best channels suited for your business audience
In order to get as close as possible to your target market, you’ll need to get as close as possible to curating a strategy centered around them. Always talk to your potential agency about how they’ll work within your niche before signing any contracts.
Stellar Customer Service
One of the biggest benefits of being a small business is that you can take advantage of the ability to offer a much more personalized level of customer service. Unlike larger corporations, you don’t have to deal with the complex processes and bottlenecks between you and your end consumer. Instead, you can exceed customer service by by delivering stellar experiences. Send handwritten “thank you” notes, design ultra-targeted emails, and go above and beyond to resolve issues and make customers happy. These are just a few of the things small business owners can excel at. This should be your top priority.
Speaking of customer service, one of the most well known brands in the world today for going online and building a real business through stellar customer service, is Zappos. Today they are a massively huge company and have banked a ton of customers simply due to their outstanding social media and customer support efforts.
To learn more about Zappos and how they’ve built their brand, click here.
Define Your Brand With Laser Precision
Branding is a crucial component of any business. After all, you build brand loyalty through shared values with your consumers, and the best branding efforts can improve customer loyalty, retention, and help you create a relatable identity. Marketing plays a major role here, and you’ll have to hone in on your ideal customer with laser point precision.
Create a mood board with an actual image of what your target customer looks like. What do their Instagram pages and Pinterest boards feature? What are their hobbies and lifestyle choices? If you want to thrive in a niche market, you have to craft your messaging around a niche “person.” This person becomes the foundation of all your marketing collateral.
It helps to take a look at how other small businesses—both in and outside of your industry—are using branding to get closer to their own markets.
For instance, Tentsile is a small company with a big vision for their product lineup of lightweight suspension hammocks. First and foremost, its logo is a clear demonstration of what you can expect from the product. And like most successful branding campaigns, it uses high-quality imagery to convey a highly specific lifestyle aesthetic to their target segments: outdoor and camping enthusiasts, adventurous travelers, the growing “glamping” crowd.
And speaking of customer service, all you need to do is scroll down on the main site to see how highly rated the product and service is, and how the company uses that as one of their branding tools and selling points.
How to Compete in Very Tough Niche Markets
With more websites and blogs on the internet today than ever before, nearly all niche markets are getting more saturated over time.
The businesses and brands that will continue to see the best results, at the ones that follow these actionable tips and actually become more than just another content site or ecommerce store. This is often done by paying more attention to each new customer and making them feel appreciated.
Yes, this will take more time — but it also works.
If you are looking to improve your business growth and reach, while also taking up more ownership within your niche, be sure to start implementing these tips and best practices today.
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