Online marketing is one thing if you’re building a website for your local pet grooming business and there are only two other pet groomers in town. We used to see a lot of websites like that, but that situation is becoming less common.
Now we tend to see situations more like the client we’re talking with today, who is building a new software package to compete with Microsoft. That’s an entirely different thing.
Nearly all fields are now more competitive than they used to be, online as well as in the physical world, and the internet is filling up. There are always new ideas, new businesses, and new opportunities — but there is an ever-increasing chance that you’ll have formidable competitors on the web.
What do you do about it?
- Have reasonable expectations. No matter how good this new software is, it’s not going to beat Microsoft in search any time soon. When I started in SEO, a small local store could routinely beat the manufacturers of the products they sold on the search engine results pages, but Google has gotten better and most companies working diligently on SEO will now rank just about where they deserve to rank. Think in the long term.
- Differentiate your product. Microsoft may be the biggest and best-known purveyor of this product, but they’re not perfect for everyone. In fact, for this particular product, I know that some 75% of all installations fail — customers give up on them and don’t continue using them. A new product that addresses the frustrations people feel with the existing products could be in with a chance.
- Differentiate your marketing. Being #1 on Google is no longer the best goal for most online marketing campaigns. Innovative social media campaigns, solid integrated online marketing plans, and PPC ads are all good ways to reach potential customers to tell them how your product is special.
The internet helps to level the playing field. You don’t have to have the largest staff, the snazziest building, or the largest ad budget to reach people online, and your smaller business can look just as good as a big business.
But you still need to pay attention to and respond to the competitive landscape.