Secrets to cornering the market: Simplicity, authenticity and a point of difference
Innovative entrepreneurs are breaking the mould to craft multimillion-dollar businesses from their garage. While traditional business thinking still pits the startup as the underdog against those with massive marketing budgets, there is plenty of evidence to show that small business owners can disrupt big markets with fresh thinking and some help from technology.
After launching a social media campaign featuring a humorous YouTube video that went viral, Dollar Shave Club is now a multimillion-dollar online retailer, having successfully shaken up the $13 billion men’s shaving market, stealing market share from entrenched majors like Gillette. What lessons can you as a small business learn from one of the giants of online retail?
The Dollar Shave Club principals had a simple idea they were convinced would work, and they set about making that idea real to consumers through a clever but simple marketing campaign.
Rather than go for large-scale funding and investing in traditional media, founders Mark Levine and Michael Dubin developed an irreverent and to-the-point video clip that went viral on YouTube. They saw a simple underserviced niche – scheduled delivery of quality razor blades without all the fuss and unnecessary bells and whistles. They knew that despite what the big companies might portray, brand loyalty came a distant second to convenience in the minds of most shavers.
Always be authentic
What was truly clever about their approach was that instead of competing purely on price, they met a need and started a conversation. From the very first day, Dollar Shave Club was talked about, links were being forwarded and the company kept in touch. Via Twitter, Facebook and YouTube they kept the conversation going, engaging with potential customers and spreading the same simple, straight-talking message.
Consumers responded overwhelmingly well, and the company grew exponentially in a very short period of time. Crucially, the principals remain involved in new viral videos, publishing humourous hints and tips and engaging with customers on social media. This honest and open approach coupled with a reduced price but quality product won them huge loyalty.
Highlight your point of difference
The Dollar Shave Club managed to turn a relative disadvantage (their small size and lack of brand presence) into a strength simply by having a strong point of difference from their competitors.
This story illustrates a simple truth: huge companies with equally huge budgets concentrated on adding new and unnecessary widgets and upgrades to their products and blanketing the market with advertising.
In doing so they failed to connect directly with consumers and realise that they were no longer aligned with what people actually wanted. The Dollar Shave Club founders were able to step in and steal customers out from under them – not by competing just on the cheapest possible price, but by offering what people actually wanted, and adding convenience.
Social media is still the hot new thing, but most major businesses are still not grasping either its power or its true nature. You can’t game the system, because it’s about people, not search results. If you genuinely engage with your customers through your website, Twitter and other social media avenues, starting real conversations with real people, you can give your business the edge over even the biggest competitors.
Start today – review your message, get in touch with your customer base, make genuine contact and react to the response. You might be surprised by the results.