Looking to Stand Out? Stake Out Your Niche
Our expert says that when competing against major, established players, differentiating yourself is the key to success.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
I built a website that I hope local restaurants will be interested in using as a platform to post deals for potential consumers. Now that the site is ready to operate, I'm unsure what my next step should be. Should I create a sales page, or cold call restaurants to tell them about my website? Utilize pay per click advertising? How can I plan for a strong launch?
Your business will need to bring value to users, both customers and restaurants, and compete with established leaders like Yelp and Groupon. To be successful, you need to reach enough diners to either replace the gains of restaurants’ normal, pre-discount profit margins with a large enough volume of visitors, or provide them with means of accessing potential new diners.
The key then, is to bring in traffic. Because you'll be competing with major industry giants casting a wide net, you’ll need to differentiate yourself with a specific niche. Get the most out of a limited marketing budget by targeting all your efforts on a specific region, using your knowledge to your advantage. Another option, if you are in a major city, is to hone in on a specific cuisine. Whether it’s pizza, Asian fusion or Middle Eastern, having a specialty for which your site becomes known will help you build credibility.
Related: Defining Your Market in 7 Steps
The next step is creating buzz. Pay per click advertising is a great tool, but since your competitors have more resources it will be difficult to overcome their efforts. Instead, let your niche lead you. Social media can present a real opportunity, allowing you to target audiences by region and focus on groups that cater to your particular area of expertise. Consider adding offline marketing, such as hosted food tastings or culinary courses and advertise them in local media. Use farmers’ markets and local city-wide events as an opportunity to speak directly to your potential customers. Write articles for local outlets on the food scene, and build up credibility for you and your business.
The key is to get people talking about you, and then channeling the buzz to create wider interest. The more active you become in your region's culinary scene the more likely locals will be to associate you with it and visit your website. As you bring in more traffic, the process of procuring deals at restaurants should ease exponentially.
Launching a new business has its challenges, but if you target the right niche and invest in word of mouth marketing and media relations, you can succeed in spite of the big competition and create a profitable business.