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How to Differentiate Your Company to 
Grow in a Crowded Market 
Steve Offsey 
CEO, MarketBuildr
When you started 
your company 
you may have had 
a unique product 
or solution!
You found your product / market fit and began to 
grow
But, now there’s an influx of new entrants vying for 
leadership in your rapidly expanding market
>70 
! >35
In the early days… 
Your challenge was to 
get skeptical 
prospects, hires and 
investors to 
understand your 
target mark...
Now you hear… 
“Aren’t X, Y and Z 
doing that?“ 
“What's different 
about you?" 
You
So, how can you differentiate your company to 
grow in a crowded market? 
1. Sharpen your target market 2. Improve your po...
Everyone knows what a target market is… 
“A specific group of consumers at which a company 
aims its products and services...
How Could Everyone Not Be On The Same Page? 
I need to generate more 
leads and our email 
subscriber list is growing 
too...
External Pressure To ‘Think Big’ Can Make Things 
Worse 
Raising funds often 
creates pressure on 
company founders to 
ex...
Why is an Overly Broad Target Market Bad? 
• Too many target 
customers to easily target 
with existing resources 
• Too m...
Resist the temptation to be too general in the 
hopes of getting a larger slice of the market 
It’s way more risky and 
ex...
What are the odds?
OK, I’m convinced. Now how do I do it?
3 Steps to Ensure Everyone Is Aiming at the Same, 
Well-Defined Target Market 
1. Assess your target 
customer’s needs 
ve...
How can I find more target customers to talk to? 
• Create an offer for content relevant 
to your general market and follo...
2. Evaluate and segment your target market 
• Company Size 
• Industry 
• Product Usage 
• Pain Level 
• Motives 
• Behavi...
3. Communicate, measure and repeat 
• Document and internally 
communicate your refined 
target market definition to 
your...
The dangers of over-sharpening!
So, how can you differentiate your company to 
grow in a crowded market? 
1. Sharpen your target market 2. Improve your po...
What Is Positioning? 
“Positioning is not what you do to a product. 
Positioning is what you do to the mind of the 
prospe...
Positioning is really about understanding things 
from the buyers' perspective 
1. How existing products or 
brands inhabi...
Define the market in which the product or brand 
will compete (who the relevant buyers are)
Identify the attributes (also called dimensions) that 
define the product or brand 'space' 
AAttttrriibbuuttee IImmppoorrt...
Ask your target customers about their perceptions 
of each product on the relevant attributes 
Determine the 
target marke...
Position Around Your Customer and Their Pain / 
Problem 
If you do a good job of 
defining the customer 
problem, you don’...
Focus on how 
you can be 
the best
Rather than 
simply the 
most unique
Example: Risk Management Software
Craft a succinct positioning statement 
For (target customers) 
Who are dissatisfied with (the current market 
alternative...
What makes a good positioning statement? 
• It's simple, memorable, and tailored to the target market 
• It provides an un...
Example: Zipcar 
To urban-dwelling, educated, techno-savvy 
consumers who worry about the environment that 
future generat...
Test your positioning statement 
• Is it clear who should buy, 
what they should buy and 
why they should buy? 
• If you s...
Two ways to differentiate your company to grow in 
a crowded market 
1. Sharpen your target market 2. Improve your positio...
It’s a process: deploy, test, refine and repeat…
Steve 
Offsey 
CMO / VP Marketing 
617.834.2834 
steve.offsey@gmail.com 
marketbuildr.com 
www.linkedin.com/in/steveoffsey...
How to grow in a crowded market
How to grow in a crowded market
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How to grow in a crowded market

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If the market for your product or service is taking off, you’re likely experiencing an influx of new entrants. Customers, potential employees and investors—who in the early days didn’t understand your product or were skeptical it would succeed—now tell you that “everyone’s doing that” and want to know “what’s different about you?”

In this presentation, you'll learn how to refine your target market definition and improve your positioning, so you can help your company grow in a crowded market.

Published in: Marketing
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How to grow in a crowded market

  1. 1. How to Differentiate Your Company to Grow in a Crowded Market Steve Offsey CEO, MarketBuildr
  2. 2. When you started your company you may have had a unique product or solution!
  3. 3. You found your product / market fit and began to grow
  4. 4. But, now there’s an influx of new entrants vying for leadership in your rapidly expanding market
  5. 5. >70 ! >35
  6. 6. In the early days… Your challenge was to get skeptical prospects, hires and investors to understand your target market and solution.
  7. 7. Now you hear… “Aren’t X, Y and Z doing that?“ “What's different about you?" You
  8. 8. So, how can you differentiate your company to grow in a crowded market? 1. Sharpen your target market 2. Improve your positioning
  9. 9. Everyone knows what a target market is… “A specific group of consumers at which a company aims its products and services. Your target customers are those who are most likely to buy from you.” Source: Entrepreneur.com …So why is a lack of focus a common startup disease?
  10. 10. How Could Everyone Not Be On The Same Page? I need to generate more leads and our email subscriber list is growing too slowly. I can add a free sample list from this great trade publication. I can easily add these contacts from my last company to my next campaign. This opportunity is a bit off target, but the buyer’s really interested and has budget! I’ll call my old contact at BleedingEdg e.com. He’s always looking to try something new.
  11. 11. External Pressure To ‘Think Big’ Can Make Things Worse Raising funds often creates pressure on company founders to expand the definition of their target market in order to increase its potential size
  12. 12. Why is an Overly Broad Target Market Bad? • Too many target customers to easily target with existing resources • Too many buyer personas or, more typically, personas that are too vague • Reduced effectiveness of market programs due to dilution or generalization of messages
  13. 13. Resist the temptation to be too general in the hopes of getting a larger slice of the market It’s way more risky and expensive to fire 10 arrows in a variety of directions instead of aiming at the dead center of the target
  14. 14. What are the odds?
  15. 15. OK, I’m convinced. Now how do I do it?
  16. 16. 3 Steps to Ensure Everyone Is Aiming at the Same, Well-Defined Target Market 1. Assess your target customer’s needs versus your solution’s benefits 2. Carefully evaluate and segment your target market 3. Communicate, measure and repeat
  17. 17. How can I find more target customers to talk to? • Create an offer for content relevant to your general market and follow up with respondents by email or phone • Attend a conference or meet-up focused on your general market. Network and follow up with suitable contacts afterwards • Work with key influencers in your general market. Tap their expertise and pitch creating an online chat session to explore your area of interest • You can always cold call into companies in your general market and ask to speak to people in specific positions of interest
  18. 18. 2. Evaluate and segment your target market • Company Size • Industry • Product Usage • Pain Level • Motives • Behaviors (online and off-line)
  19. 19. 3. Communicate, measure and repeat • Document and internally communicate your refined target market definition to your sales and marketing team • Measure the impact on all stages of the sales funnel • Repeat periodically to ward against target creep • As your business expands to encompass multiple target markets, repeat the process for each individual segment to ensure it is sharply defined
  20. 20. The dangers of over-sharpening!
  21. 21. So, how can you differentiate your company to grow in a crowded market? 1. Sharpen your target market 2. Improve your positioning
  22. 22. What Is Positioning? “Positioning is not what you do to a product. Positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect.” – Al Ries and Jack Trout in Positioning - The Battle for Your Mind “Product Positioning is consumers' perceptions of a product's attributes, uses, quality, and advantages and disadvantages relative to competing brands.” – Louis E. Boone and David L. Kurtz, Contemporary Marketing
  23. 23. Positioning is really about understanding things from the buyers' perspective 1. How existing products or brands inhabit buyers' minds (i.e. the occupied spaces) 2. Determining the holes or unoccupied spaces, and 3. Devising a strategy and tactics to attain the desired position in the minds of your prospects (and customers)
  24. 24. Define the market in which the product or brand will compete (who the relevant buyers are)
  25. 25. Identify the attributes (also called dimensions) that define the product or brand 'space' AAttttrriibbuuttee IImmppoorrttaannccee Price 7 Speed 8 Range of Features 5 Ease of Integration 9 Flexibility and Configurability 3 Cool Factor 4 Reliability 9 24x7 Support 4 Usability 9 Security 5
  26. 26. Ask your target customers about their perceptions of each product on the relevant attributes Determine the target market's preferred combination of attributes (referred to as an ideal vector)
  27. 27. Position Around Your Customer and Their Pain / Problem If you do a good job of defining the customer problem, you don’t need to describe your product. The customer will want to learn more in the next conversation.
  28. 28. Focus on how you can be the best
  29. 29. Rather than simply the most unique
  30. 30. Example: Risk Management Software
  31. 31. Craft a succinct positioning statement For (target customers) Who are dissatisfied with (the current market alternative, or a lack of an alternative) Our product/solution is a (new product category) That provides (key problem-solving capability) Unlike (the alternatives) We have assembled (key whole product features for your specific application) Source: Jeffrey Moore, Crossing the Chasm
  32. 32. What makes a good positioning statement? • It's simple, memorable, and tailored to the target market • It provides an unmistakable and easily understood picture of your brand that differentiates it from your competitors • It's credible, and your brand can deliver on its promise • Your brand can be the sole occupier of this particular position in the market, i.e. you can “own” it • It helps you evaluate whether or not marketing decisions are consistent with and supportive of your brand • It leaves room for growth Source: Doug Stayman, How to Write Market Positioning Statements
  33. 33. Example: Zipcar To urban-dwelling, educated, techno-savvy consumers who worry about the environment that future generations will inherit [target and insight], Zipcar is the car-sharing service [competitive frame] that lets you save money and reduce your carbon footprint [points of difference], making you feel you've made a smart, responsible choice that demonstrates your commitment to protecting the environment [target's goal]. Source: Alice M. Tybout and Bobby J. Calder in Kellogg on Marketing
  34. 34. Test your positioning statement • Is it clear who should buy, what they should buy and why they should buy? • If you substitute a competitor, is it still compelling? • Does the point of differentiation link to the buyer’s goals? • How does it resonate with your target customers?
  35. 35. Two ways to differentiate your company to grow in a crowded market 1. Sharpen your target market 2. Improve your positioning
  36. 36. It’s a process: deploy, test, refine and repeat…
  37. 37. Steve Offsey CMO / VP Marketing 617.834.2834 steve.offsey@gmail.com marketbuildr.com www.linkedin.com/in/steveoffsey @MarketBuildr plus.google.com/u/0/112180942182740068934 Building exception B2B, SaaS, Enterprise Software and Internet businesses

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