November 23, 2012
Online gurus consistently give the same piece of advice to startups over and over again: Become market leaders. To achieve this, they say, you should produce as much content as possible and distribute it everywhere.
Record yourself speaking in a video (that's YouTube – done), split the audio and upload it to iTunes (that's a Podcast – done), transcribe the words and publish them (that's a blog post – done), share all of it on social media (that's Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn – done), then collate the material and finally sell an ebook.
This sounds wonderful, except that for 99 percent of startups, it doesn't work. Why? Because only 1 percent of startups are in the business of making noise and that's exactly what this advice creates. Producing content for the sake of producing content will not make you successful; rather, it will act as a distraction from your main business.
Flip your thinking: Don't work for these digital outlets, let the digital outlets work for you. What do I mean? A quick look at how the term “market leadership” has been warped will explain.
In economics, market leadership means that your business has the greatest market share. Online, market leadership means having the most content and traffic. However, having the most content and traffic doesn't always lead to having the greatest market share. See the difference? This is the trap many new startups fall into. Ten thousand Twitter followers does not necessarily lead to greater revenues or better positioning.
Instead, laser-focus your efforts into the most profitable areas and position yourself accordingly.
For example, let's imagine you've created a tax calculator application for Android and iOS. Who is your target audience? People who are earning money but don't understand the tax system. They're probably on their first job and want to figure out how much they actually want to take home. So where will they go for such information? Most probably Google, maybe to their parents, the business itself, a local advisory office, or perhaps their lawyer or accountant. Where will they not go? Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or LinkedIn.
Therefore, if you were to laser-focus your efforts into the most profitable areas and position yourself accordingly in this example, you'd make sure you land on top of Google either through advertising or SEO, create information leaflets and leave them in the local advisory offices, or create referral partnerships with businesses, lawyers, and accountants. You might go further and position yourself in places your target market are situated before they get the job: career-advice magazines, job-seeker websites, and personal finance blogs.
Do you see the difference between the two approaches? The first market leadership strategy just created noise and hoped some of it stuck. The second market leadership strategy asked two important questions:
- Who is my target audience?
- Where is my target audience?
It then positioned the business accordingly. Which type of market leadership, do you think, would lead to the greatest market share?
Guest author Tom Church is the author of Communication Is The Key and founder of London Startups. He advises global brands on their marketing strategies and graduated from University College London, UK.
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