Mind the Gap!

This week’s tip for startup success: look for the gaps in what your competition offers, and find a way to fill it. Then make sure your audience knows that you’ve got their previously-unaddressed needs covered.

So where do you start? With market research, of course. Whether you conduct a full-fledged study or some informal polling and Google searching, discover the things that your market segment wishes the competition offered. Then figure out how you can not only do that, but do it well.

This competitive intelligence will allow you to market and sell your company as providing the solutions that people have been waiting for. Make sure that your marketing materials and sales pitches focus around how your company saw a need and found an innovative way to fill it.

It should go without saying that you have to make sure that your product lives up to the expectations you’re setting. Don’t deliver any promises that you can’t keep! That’s a mistake that can sink even an established company, let alone a startup. Sales and marketing shouldn’t tout any features that haven’t already been developed and thoroughly tested! As long as you remember this, you’re golden.

This is the key to breaking into any field. See what’s being done, and think about how you can do it better. Knowing what gaps you need to fill can help you decide on everything from what your product should be to who you should hire to work on it to, of course, how you’re going to sell it. You’ll know too, who your potential customers are… They’re the people who are dissatisfied with the competition. Most likely, you’ll even get people who had never purchased from your competition, because they only wanted the product that filled those gaps.

Of course, just don’t look for gaps that customers haven’t even noticed. If you’re particularly clever and lucky, you may even find something that no one realizes they want yet, but that will revolutionize the field. So have a very careful look at your competition, and then spend some time brainstorming. What would be the best possible addition to your market? What innovations has no one even dreamed of yet, but that you could build the perfect team to create? That’s the gap you really want to fill.

-AJ

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