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How to build a business in a crowded market

Posted by Chad O'Connor  July 30, 2013 11:00 AM

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Despite the abundance of pregnancy and health industry websites, Jessica Munroe co-founded a healthy gift giving site for pregnant women and new moms.

Here is advice on how to succeed in an already crowded market.

Carve out a niche and strive for innovation. — First, decide what it is that you want your business to be. Are you striving to build the largest market share of any company in your industry, or is being the top player in a smaller niche your ultimate goal? The answer to this is critical, as the former would certainly involve higher risks and stiffer competition.

Supplet.com’s strategy is not to sell as many products and services as we can on our website; instead, we focus mainly on offering the best eco-friendly pregnancy and new mom gifts and services. However this strategy is not enough. In order to cut through the clutter, companies must be on the cutting edge of innovation. Supplet.com provides an innovative way to make women healthier through an interesting gift giving model. We also only work with innovative brands.

Maintain a customer service focus. — Maintaining a high level of customer service is integral to any company's success. Having customers fill out customer satisfaction surveys goes a long way in helping companies determine areas for improvement. You can also solicit testimonials and designate a page on your website just for them.

Develop your business around the needs of consumers. — One of the key advantages to being a startup is the ability to respond quickly to the ever-changing needs of consumers, a sharp contrast to the bureaucracy that can arguably be referred to as a “bottleneck” for many larger organizations.

Build strong relationships. — We have all heard the old adage: "Two heads are better than one." Any time you can work together with other companies to deliver a better customer experience, everybody wins. For its part, Supplet.com works closely with our brand partners to put out special promotions, including 72-hour sales, that serve to generate brand excitement and cultivate a loyal customer base.

In addition, Supplet.com plans to forge affiliate partnerships with third parties that specialize in niches, from companies that focus solely on creative gift giving to those that provide dance classes to pregnant women and new moms. Such relationships will not only combine your company's strengths with those of your partners, but they will help set you apart from the competition and in turn translate into increased sales. Do your homework on which companies you choose to forge relationships with; the companies should align with your mission.

Leverage resources and make the time to exploit marketing opportunities. — In order to cut through the ‘clutter’, your brand has to be visible, and this entails investing in marketing and public relations. Even if appearing in the media is out of your price range, you can still participate in industry conferences and trade shows to raise awareness of your business. If your budget does not yet allow for trade show booth participation then go to the show and just “walk the floor” and pass out business cards and offers.

It is imperative that small businesses harness the power of the Internet and invest in marketing to low-cost channels, including mobile, e-mail and social media. In order to turn prospects into customers, you must provide them with added incentives for choosing your product over that of competitors. The beauty of the internet is that you can quickly pivot your marketing strategy (if your offers are not bring you the results you are looking for).

Jessica Munroe is the co-founder of Supplet.com, an online marketplace for pregnant women and new moms. Supplet has a socially minded agenda that includes creating better health outcomes for children and families.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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