It must have been a bit of a let-down when the last prospectors finally arrived in the Wild West to try and participate in the California Gold Rush of 1849. All those competitors were already swinging their pick-axes and sifting their pans, which meant you would have had to be particularly industrious to compete.
Even today, there are situations where it feels almost pointless to enter an environment that is filled with people who came ahead of you. Some suggest we’ve already reached “peak podcast,” for example, and that it will be difficult for new podcasts to gain much of an audience. Trying to be an influencer on Instagram may be similarly daunting, given how many superstars have already emerged there.
Entrepreneurs might be understandably discouraged, then, when they develop great products and services but find themselves trying to prove they’re not “just another” company in the category they've chosen.
It’s not just the number of firms that matter in this case. For every single competitor, there has probably been all kinds of advertising and content marketing assets developed to reach the biggest addressable market possible. In other words, customers and prospects may already feel like they’re drowning in information about a particular product category, which could have an impact on how they react to marketing from newer entrants.
This is where it’s good to remember that being first to market is not always a guarantee of success. There were photo-sharing services long before Instagram, for example. There were CRM companies before there was Salesforce, for that matter!
Even when a market feels saturated, there are always opportunities to refine the way you tell your particular story and differentiate yourself:
Anyone can sell home alarm systems. Look them up on a search engine and you’re likely to find all kinds of options available in your area. There might only be a few in the mix, however, that describe themselves as “home alarm systems for busy seniors living independently.”
In just one sentence you’ve taken a product category and provided critical detail about the demographics and desires of your niche. While many seniors might downsize into an apartment or condo, for instance, some will choose to remain in a house, but they don’t want to get bogged down by figuring out how to install and manage their home alarm. They want to spend more time with friends and family.
Even in a potentially over-saturated market like home alarm systems, you could see how you could create marketing programs that highlight the subset of customers you’re serving. You can do the same thing with almost any product category or market, whether it’s a business-to-consumer (B2C) firm trying to attract a specific demographic or a business-to-business (B2B) firm that might market itself to only a few professional roles or lines of business.
No matter how granular you get, everything you say has to be authentic and convincing. As the recent Salesforce State of the Connected Customer report pointed out, 73% of those surveyed said trust in companies is more important now than it was a year ago.
It’s not uncommon, particularly in major metropolitan areas, to find a group of dry cleaning stores all within a short distance from each other. You might assume the potential volume of business will wind up being relatively evenly distributed across the group of them, or perhaps one or two will get more business by offering lower prices. Who on Earth would want to set up a similar shop in such a crowded space?
In fact, as shown in the State of The Connected Customer research, 66% of customers said they would actually pay more to a company that offers a great experience. Maybe you’re the dry cleaner that offers text message notifications when a customers’ dry cleaning is ready for pickup. You might also offer a followup email with tips on emergency stain removal for moments when they can’t drop their clothes off. Yours might be the only one with a website that has an instructional video on how to iron everything properly, easily and quickly.
The fact these are all examples of using digital technologies in a smart way is no accident. The report also showed that three quarters of customers expect firms to use such tools to create better experiences.
Having lots of choice in the products and services we want is great, but what we remember are the companies that go the extra mile to make our lives easier.
You can launch in a saturated market and still develop a strong reputation for providing convenience where similar firms offer only chaos. Customer service is a good example. According to our research, 59% of customers say it generally feels like they're communicating with separate departments, rather than one company, and 66% said they often have to repeat or re-explain information.
Contrast that with a company that centralizes data and ensures everyone’s on the same page. Then, you can also take marketing to the next level by proving you’ve done your homework about their contact preferences.
It sounds like common sense, but customers who don't like email shouldn’t be getting a lot of email. They might prefer to follow you on social media instead. This is more important than many firms realize: 40% of those we surveyed said they won't do business with a company that doesn’t use their preferred channels.
Sure, you're just one of many other firms offering the same products and services, but maybe your actions speak even louder than whatever words you’ll use to describe them. Perhaps you’re one of the few that has championed equal pay in your sector, or have rethought your manufacturing process to reduce the potential effects of climate change.
These things go beyond public relations tactics. The State Of The Connected Customer report revealed that 66% of people expect companies to give back to their communities. When a firm’s corporate values are in tune with those they seek to serve, it absolutely sways buying decisions. It’s part of the psychology behind sales many other firms overlook.
A saturated market is not necessarily off-limits to entrepreneurs who approach it with the right strategy. Download the complete 2019 Salesforce State of The Connected Customer report to get even more ideas.