Make your start-up stand out in a crowded marketplace

In real estate, the mantra is “location, location, location”. A crowded marketplace is no different. Instead of competing for desirable suburbs in a city, you’re competing for a space in your target market and for the headspace of potential customers.

In order to win a place in both of these spaces, you need to be clear about how your start-up solution stacks up against other competitors in your marketplace — your similarities and points of difference.

You also need to know how your start-up solution is positioned in customers’ minds. Do they associate your solution with market leaders and understand what makes your offering unique?

Find your place in the market

Many business schools advise that you conduct a comprehensive competitor analysis before entering the market, but don’t fret. The reality is that you may never have gotten off the starting blocks if you knew how crowded the marketplace was beforehand. Besides it’s just as easy to conduct an analysis now.

Create your own version of the Gartner magic quadrant

Like many entrepreneurs, your business idea was probably sparked by some degree of innovation, or a different point of view. Now all you need to do is clarify exactly what it is that makes your solution different and then prove it to your potential customers. One of the best ways to do this is by making your own version of Gartner’s magic quadrant.

The Gartner Magic Quadrant is famous for positioning competing players in a specific market. Challengers, leaders, visionaries and niche players are all positioned according to the completeness of their vision, and their ability to execute.

First, you need to establish your X-axis and Y-axis. The best way to get started is to put yourself into the shoes of your customers. If you’re stuck, ask your customers to list the two most important problems that your product or service solves. You can also ask them to name two major problems they have with existing solutions in the marketplace. This should help define your X and Y axes.

Here is an example we made to define iFavr’s position in our own marketplace (the opinion gathering solution space). The X-axis is the effort (or ease) in which people can volunteer their opinion, and the Y-axis is the value of the data gathered. The results confirmed that we had found our place in the solution space. By creating a solution that uses a simple gathering method and yields high value data, we have created a solution that fills a gap in the marketplace.

Opinion Gathering Solution Space

Interpreting the solution space

On the vertical axis we ranked competing solutions according to the value of the data they gather, from low value (comparing popular but trivial content) to high value (gathering data based on very specific questions and answers). On the horizontal axis we ranked competing solutions according to their ease of use and popularity, from ‘not’ (unpopular and difficult) to ‘hot’ (popular and simple).

As you can see, there are plenty of popular methods of gathering opinions (Buzzfeed quizzes, Wishbone, Swelly chat bot and other ‘would you rather?’ and ‘hot or not’ polls). While these are fun and entertaining, it’s doubtful that the data gathered has any significant value. On the other extreme, there are customer surveys. While these are designed to gather valuable data, they are very unpopular, often having to pay customers to participate.

By comparing all the other methods in our market, we confirmed that there is a gap in the market for an opinion gathering method that was both, popular and gathered high value data.

Tell your customers what makes you different

Thanks to our version of the Gartner magic quadrant, we know our place in the market. Now we can promote and market iFavr as ‘the serious hot-or-not’ solution or a ‘cool way to find out what people really like’.

While the iFavr app may not be as ‘hot’ as Wishbone and Swelly (as we compare text, rather than images), our intentional use of text makes our data more valuable. Additionally, our app offers an easy and frictionless way of gathering opinions. When compared to Survey Monkey (the current market leader) we offer a point of difference in that we compare our survey results to a community benchmark, and make the data available to the community for analysis.

As we have mentioned in a previous article — there is value in comparing your start-up to the best. There’s even more value in knowing where your start-up places in the market.

What makes your solution different from your competitors? Why not create a quiz with the iFavr app and find out!

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