Knowing how to market your business effectively takes hard work, knowledge and dedication. And even with all of that, there’s no guarantee your efforts will be a success. But how much more difficult is this when you’re in a competitive niche? Without a huge budget or the right contacts, it’s difficult to make waves.
One of the key pieces of advice on running a successful business is to be original, but is this possible when you’ve got so much competition?
What Defines a Competitive Niche?
How do you know if your niche is competitive? Of course, your main motivation for starting any business is that you love the industry you’re working in. Without that, how can you be enthusiastic and therefore expect your employees, customers or clients to be enthusiastic about your work?
It’s not a good idea to start a business in an industry just because it’s less competitive. However, most of the time, business owners don’t realize just how hard it is to fight with the big cats until their business is up and running. Determining if an industry is competitive depends on a few factors.
A saturated market, from a business point of view, is when you find yourself vying for the attention of consumers with loads of competitors. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t succeed.
What You Can Do
A saturated market means demand. Demand means opportunity. All you need to do is provide a unique offering—and something that gives consumers choice. Without that, customers never get the opportunity to find a service that truly caters to them. In my business, we don’t just provide holidays; we provide the most price-competitive cruises from a range of lines, from Norwegian Cruise Line to P&O, with a full itinerary and service catered specifically to our customers. As a dedicated cruise provider, we don’t just provide cruise holidays as a sideline to a general business model.
Finding what makes you stand out, such as providing a service to a subset of people, will make them more likely to come to you.
Targeting the Wrong Keywords
Start talking about keywords or SEO (search engine optimization) and businesses will often run a mile. However, it’s become more crucial than ever to effectively market your business and make yourself visible. If you’re looking for the best holiday or for car insurance, where’s the first place you’re going to go? Google, right? And that’s exactly where your ideal customer is going to, too.
However, in competitive industries, you won’t just be competing with other small businesses; you’ll be fighting against the largest companies in the industry—those who can afford expensive marketing campaigns that get them to the top spot of Google.
Just to give you an idea of how competitive some keywords can be, check out this list of competitive keywords on Moz. Google “holidays”, and you’ll be presented with an astounding 710 million results. Realistically, it’s going to be pretty difficult to rank for that search term, with giants in the industry dominating the results. But the real question here should be “would you want to?”
What You Can Do
Effective SEO is about targeting the search terms people are using because they’re ready to buy, not just because they’re evaluating their options. Keywords that are more precise are more likely to be searched by people ready to convert (or buy your product).
Here’s an example we often see on our website. People searching for “NCL cruise deals to Miami” are much more likely to be looking to purchase a cruise, knowing exactly where they want to go and who they want to travel with, over those searching for “cheap cruises,” who are likely just checking to see where they could go. This is the fundamental difference between getting traffic that bounces and traffic that converts—our main aim.
Other Helpful Marketing Tips
The Power of Guest Posting
Guest posting is a great strategy that boosts your online exposure, authority and traffic. Guest posts are articles posted on a relevant publication or blog. It’s a win-win situation: they get quality content by an expert in the industry and, in exchange, you receive a nice backlink to your website. Not only does this earn you exposure and drive referrals to your website, but if you use the right keywords and anchor text, you can get a boost in your Google rankings, too.
In more competitive industries, such as travel and property, it can be very difficult to successfully guest post, with many publications requesting payment for sponsored content. Larger businesses will have a large amount of money to spend on their marketing strategy—something which you might not be in a position to do. But that doesn’t mean you can’t succeed. Consider unique angles, such as how you run your business. Or perhaps you can tie your industry in with popular culture, such as this great infographic by a racking inspector expert on the most dangerous fictional workplaces.
How to Leverage Social Media
Using social media is crucial. Not only does it act as a platform for connecting with your customers and clients and showing them you’re committed to providing a good service, but it also serves as a great tool to share your articles. Whether it’s a blog post or an outreach article, make sure you share them with your followers to increase engagement (tip: tag publications you’re published on and take advantage of retweets).
Social media shouldn’t just be used to share content and communicate with your clients, however. You can use Twitter to connect with journalists and publications who are specifically looking for a collaboration or a comment for a piece they’re writing. Twitter’s a great platform to get your business mentioned in some of the largest publications in the world—and with the election result big news at the moment, what better time to contribute your opinion?
Whatever industry you work in, you’re going to face competition; whether that’s a host of small businesses like yours or big corporations with deep pockets. This can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to stop you from being successful online. Identify what makes you unique, whether that’s a specific service or location, use the right marketing strategies, and you could soon see yourself bringing in more traffic and business for your website.
Author: Paul Edge, director of Cruise Club UK, has spent over 25 years working to improve the travel industry. When not in the office, he’s in an exotic location user-testing one of his luxury cruises.