Every industry has clear leaders both on a local and national level. More times than not, these leaders are able to out-spend or out-scale smaller businesses in any given space. Regardless, there is no reason why smaller companies shouldn’t look for ways to differentiate themselves, and create their own David vs. Goliath win over a bigger competitor.
If you have found yourself in this position, you may want to consider picking up a copy of Stephen Denny’s Killing Giants. The book outlines 10 strategies that a business of any size can use to take a chunk out of the leaders market share. Below are three of the stories that stood out as case studies even a one-man company could execute on.
Product is King – When you think of American beer companies, what are the first two companies that come to mind? Chances are that one of two mega-conglomerates come to mind: MillerCoors (Miller Lite, Coors Light, Blue Moon) or InBev (Budweiser, Bud Light, etc.). When Jim Koch launched Samuel Adams in the late 1980’s, he knew that he couldn’t compete at the same level or with the same types of advertising as a Bud or Coors, but wanted to revolutionize the American beer space. So how did he do it?
For starters he focused on the quality and taste of his beer. Using a simple slogan to help pique the interest in his beer – Sam Adams is not a beginner’s beer. By saying that, he challenged beer drinkers to try something new, while also hinting that the status quo of American beers was for novices.
Focus on your customers –The technology space is full of heavy hitters, so improving products and maximizing efficiency is of great importance. In the case of Intuit, makers of small business accounting products TurboTax and Quicken for small businesses, the company needed to nimbly implement impact updates for their customers while also doing so at a rapid pace. Since they couldn’t do this on the scale of their competitors, the company turned to an unlikely but highly specialized group to help them maximize their efficiency – their customers.
The vast majority of this group couldn’t write code or develop products, but they could give feedback on features that they would use and wanted. To empower the base, the company utilized a community platform to engage with their customers and see what features they liked or needed. The members also served as a focus group to help the company decide on which updates should be given a higher priority.
Beat them at their own game – Do you remember Crystal Pepsi? It had a quick run, so it is OK if you forgot about it. Part of the reason for this short shelf life can be attributed to diet cola Tab.
Pepsi’s clear, non-caffeinated cola was something that worried rival Coke. So to hinder the chances of success they turned to Tab, one of the company’s soft drink lines, to launch their own crystal clear cola. By going with their brand that was synonymous with being a diet drink, Coke successfully undermined the launch of Pepsi’s new beverage.
Once consumers saw a diet drink that was clear, alongside Crystal Pepsi, they immediately associated it with diet. This made it “uncool” and within a few short months of their launches, both products were taken off the shelves.
These approaches vary in level of cost and involvement but all have the same end result – making a dent in the industry giant’s piece of the pie while increasing the share for the companies executing them. Have you used any tactics that have successfully increased your market share while lowering the industry leaders’? If so, we’d love to hear in the comments below.