While your offerings influence your role in the market, so do those of your competitors. How do your ideal clients view your brand in comparison to similar brands? You might provide the best quality in your area, but prospective customers only see pricing—unless you differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack.
It’s especially challenging if you want to break out into new corners of the industry. Entering a new space can be rewarding and profitable, but understand that you will be competing with more established brands in your new field. For example, suppose you run a wedding planning company and are interested in expanding to corporate events. In that case, you are now competing with a whole new sector of the market.
Those who have been planning corporate events for years may have more experience and a stronger network than you, but that doesn’t mean they offer better products and services. To be competitive right out of the gate, position yourself apart from what already exists by honing in on the unmet needs of your ideal client.
How do you determine which needs are unmet in the market? Simple. You conduct basic market research. All you need is an internet connection and a few hours of your time.
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By digging into your market’s preferences and demands, you gain valuable insight to influence your entry into this new space. Most established businesses aren’t performing market research. Instead, they rely on the solutions that lose steam as the market evolves.
Give yourself a head start with this strategic three-step approach.
Listen to the market.
Your ideal client is talking. Are you listening? Whether you’re branching out into the corporate space, fundraising and nonprofit events, weddings, or social celebrations, it’s important to find your target audience online.
Visit forums and messaging boards where your ideal client might hang out. Stalk Facebook groups, Twitter threads, LinkedIn groups, and Subreddits. Social media is full of people complaining about their pain points. Take note of what people say: What are their biggest annoyances? What do they wish were available? Why did they fire their last vendor? All of these are prime hints as to how you can enter the market to fulfill their needs in a way no other brand does.
Evaluate your brand.
Now that you know what your ideal clients need, consider how you can adapt your brand offerings to their demands. Get honest with yourself and reflect on how the market perceives your brand against your competition. Will you need to rebrand your flowery wedding logo to feel more clean and professional to attract corporate clients? Do you need to adjust the imagery on your website to showcase more nonprofit work?
Beyond your brand, use your market research to shed light on your value propositions as well. If you notice that one of the biggest complaints is a lack of personalization options, make your entry all about how you bring custom details to the forefront of your events. When you align your brand offerings with your market research insights, you will be an unstoppable force in the industry.
Assess your new competitors.
It wouldn’t be market research if you didn’t look at your competitors, right? While it’s best not to let competition drive business decisions, it’s wise to stay up-to-date on the happenings around the industry. Perform simple research to compile a list of top competitors in your new market, noting their branding and what they offer.
Your most valuable source of competitive research will be in online reviews. Skip the testimonials on their website (remember: they’re curated!) and look to Google, Yelp, The Knot, WeddingWire, and other third-party review sites instead. Look out for key strengths and weaknesses. Why are they praised? What are their most notable criticisms?
Compare these strengths and weaknesses with your own, identifying areas that overlap and those where you stand out. (It’s OK if you’re weaker in some areas; the idea is not to replicate competitors!) Overlapping qualities are known as market parity, which means they will not be a defining factor in a client’s purchasing decision. They expect equally great quality from each of you.
Instead, focus on the areas in which your strengths rise above the rest. These are your competitive advantages, and your messaging should focus on them as you branch out to new event types. These qualities make prospects view your brand as separate from the rest because of the unique value you offer.
Strategic research should be the first step to any kind of expansion or growth opportunity. It’s better to do it right once than to take the easy way out and ultimately fail from lack of preparation. When you enter a new market with research backing you up, you’ll not only know exactly what to say—you’ll be much more confident saying it, too.
Lead photo: Trends for Events 2019 by Diana Da Ros. Photo courtesy Diego Taroni Photo27