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The Challenge: Destroy the only competitor in your niche

What would you do to chip away at their market share?

11:32 am on Jan 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I have been away from WW and online business for a while as have been focused on family and my career. But am coming back in and coming back in with one project that I hope to launch soon. I live in a region where there is only one classifieds site and they pretty much dominate. They are independently and locally owned (Craigslist has no share here). They receive 2.5 million uniques a month - their main focus is cars and real estate

Challenge? What would you do to enter this market to chip away at their share

I plan on:
a) building a recognizable/catchy brand.identity
b) improving on their system/layout/etc
c) start with no advertising
d) do giveaways for ad placements and visitors
e) add value-added services that they dont offer
f) utilize search engine/PPC to take that traffic source away (they dont utilize SE as much given they are pretty much branded)

Would love to hear your comments and suggestions
4:12 pm on Feb 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

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you need a unique selling point, something you provide that they don't

something that would perhaps get you a bit of press in the local rags or trade press
5:09 pm on Feb 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

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It could be difficult to knock them off their #1 spot. Three years into my local directory project, I find myself still competing to get:

a) user mindshare
b) vendor interest
b) #1 ranking on money keywords

The competition has not changed from their hand-coded 1997 format. We're eking out market share by providing a social component and a generally high quality service, but after two years of 30% month to month growth I am already starting to see a plateau. What is saving us right now is a high repeat visit and transaction rate.

The ranking of our money (high volume, transaction oriented) keywords just won't budge. Top 5 after 6 months, top 3 after about a year. Consistent ever since - thankfully the long tail keeps growing because of fresh and quality content.

After we started, our idea was stolen at least five times that I am aware of. Each of the new competitors eventually failed, but it muddled the waters for a while.

It might be tougher than you think...
1:09 am on Feb 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

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You probably need high impact high budget advertising campaigns to kick-start this sort of thing - newspaper ads, roadside billboards, TV ads, that sort of thing. You have to get the new brand into the mind of regular folk so that when they come to list a classified they think of you as at least an extra channel on which to list their thing.

Obviously that means a high risk investment.

I think by the time people are on the web, they're already going by default to the established guys, so it's kinda too late. Gotta get them before that point.
8:01 pm on Feb 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Consider yourself lucky, that you only have one competitor in your niche.

If you have no competitors, there is no desire to innovate, and you will get lazy and your site will get stale.

And Poof !, new competitors come to challenge you.
7:33 pm on Mar 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

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"I think by the time people are on the web, they're already going by default to the established guys, so it's kinda too late. Gotta get them before that point."

So said Yahoo to Google.

So said Myspace to Facebook.

So said McDonalds to Subway.

It's rare to find a niche with no competition so if you only have one main competitor then that's great. What could they do better- do it. What are they missing- implement it. But don't spend so much time on those details that you forget to advertise. Because if no one knows you exist then being "better" really won't matter.