You’re a new business. You’ve worked really hard to develop your product or service. You’re certain your offering is better than your competitors. But as a new player in the market, getting people to try your brand over established industry giants is what that stands between you and the success of your business.
So, the question is how can you get people to trust your brand over others that have spent years building up the trust of their customers?
It’s a Good Time to be a New Player
Before we dive into specific examples and best practices you can implement to break into the market, it is important to understand why now more than ever is a great time to establish a new brand – the millennials. Now accounting up to 24% of the US population alone, stats show that most of the brands that strike a chord with this generation are relatively new to the market. Millennials are also the reason VC firms continue to invest in new ecommerce businesses as long as they have the potential build a “brand”, with VC funding for new ecommerce businesses soaring to $30.3B over the last 5 years.
Looking at these facts, its safe to say that new players are successfully being able to garner the trust of customers and challenge the status quo of established brands to take a slice of the pie for themselves. So what then are some things you can learn from these new players?
- Have an Inspiring Story Behind Your Brand
Easier said than done, but having an inspirational message or story as the foundation of your brand goes a long way in helping you resonate with your audience. The problem is, in most cases you can’t fake an inspiring story if you don’t have one. But if you do, you need to center your entire presence around it.
One of the best modern examples of having an inspiring story behind the brand is TOMS Shoes. Their One for One policy, which is now the company’s trademark slogan has deep roots in the personal experience of the entrepreneur behind the business.
In 2006 Blake Mycoskie discovered the Argentinian style Alpargata shoes that are today popularly known as TOMS. But on this trip he also learned that many children, even in well-developed regions of the country don’t have shoes on their feet. He saw the potential of the Alpargata making it big in the US and connected his entrepreneurial vision with a social vision of helping children without shoes and thus came up with the “One for One” policy that serves as the foundation of his now hugely successful business. Basically, for every pair of shoes you buy from TOMS, they donate one pair to a child in need. With such an inspiring story, Blake had no trouble resonating with millenials and getting coverage from the biggest news media outlets around the world. Blake was also able to pen a New York Time’s Best Selling book on account of his story titled “Start Something That Matters” that got him even wider acclaim. TOMS has now ventured into eye wear and even coffee!
- Don’t have an inspiring story? Do the next best thing- build inspirational content!
Not every business is lucky enough to be founded on the back of such an inspiring story. It may be that you’re operating in a boring industry or just the plain fact that you have no story behind your brand other than the fact that you saw an opportunity and wanted to make the most of it. The next best thing to do is to build inspirational content! This is particularly relevant for those traditionally “boring” industries such as insurance or car repair. It is also extremely significant for marketing to millienials since this generation is much more likely to consume your inspirational content than watch your advertisement.
There’s tons of examples for inspirational content helping new players break into established market and stir some solid buzz online. One perfect example is that of Trinet, an HR outsourcing firm. Traditionally, this is a very old fashioned and boring niche but Trinet was able to turn things around with their humorous videos that paved the way for them to get noticed amongst the competition and actually make HR more interesting and inspirational for the common man.
Here’s one of their videos from the “Don’t be a Terry” series that got them amazing results on social media:
- No Inspirational Content either? Build informational content!
There’s more than one way to leverage content marketing if you want to build trust. Let’s face it, inspirational content is again easier said than built. If you don’t have that creative instinct in your DNA, you might have to hire a professional agency to create something for you. Even in that scenario, it remains a hit or miss situation. So if you can’t build inspirational content and you don’t want to spend on hiring an agency BUT you do possess domain expertise then you can count on creating informational content for your audience.
The goal with this strategy is to answer the questions that your typical audience has around your business and establishing yourself as a credible and trustworthy authority in your niche. The trick here is to actually find specific questions your customers have and then building valuable content around it. There are a number of ways in which you can scoop in on your target customers and get a sense of the questions they have in mind. One of my favorite places is Quora which can be a gold mine if you’re looking for this kind of information.
Other places where you can look for ideas on what questions your audience has:
- Google Keyword Research Tool (or any other keyword research tool)
- Use Topsy to find the most popular content in different industries
- Check with your sales/support staff to see most common customer questions
- Browse internet forums to pick up on online discussions on your niche
Once you’ve found reasonable and real questions that your actual audience has, now its time to create content. When creating this informational content, the idea is to stick to the point by determining how advanced your answer is going to be and putting in the valuable information and data that will help solve the reader’s problem.
Needless to say, if you solve their problem with content, you automatically establish yourself as a trustworthy and credible source. The best aspect of going in this direction with your content marketing is that it will help to serve your customer’s needs for the long run and will continue to help you build trust.
- Create Value Beyond Your Product
Sure, you’ve got the best product or service in your industry. But if you believe that people will buy from you based solely on the quality that you have to offer, especially when they haven’t even heard your brand name, then you’re mistaken. In order for customers to actually give your product a try you need to create value outside of your product. One of the ways of doing that is with content as shown with the examples above. But some new and upcoming businesses go the extra mile by creating immense value outside of their core product or service.
Take New York based herbal products manufacturer Buddha’s Herbs for example- relatively new company operating in an industry that is prone to scams and is dominated by several big name brands. Although the company claims they have better products than the behemoths, they needed a way to persuade users to give their products a try. For this it was essential that they be able to win their trust. They did this by creating a dedicated “Wellness Center” as they call it which serves a host of valuable content, an online forum for peer-to-peer discussion and the opportunity to get 1 on 1 advice from a panel of health and nutrition experts. An initiative like this helped them establish credibility and by onboarding industry experts and giving their customers a chance to leverage their expertise they were able to create value outside of their core products and win the trust of their customers.
There are many different ways to create value outside of your core products. If you don’t want to do something as extensive as the example above, another tactic that has worked successfully for many businesses is creating a widget that solves a related problem for customers. Think used car calculators by car sellers, tools to create your own diet or fitness plan by companies that manufacter health products and real estate affordability calculators. These are all examples of creating value outside of your core product and service and as such this is an effective strategy to gain trust.
- Don’t be boring because you don’t have to be!
Here’s an often overlooked and relatively simple tactic that new players can use to their advantage- don’t be boring! If you’re up against industry giants, chances are you’re competing against well-established corporate organizations that are well set in their ways through years of brand building. Whatever they’ve done over the years is set in stone and the good news is that everything they’ve done over the years was targeting generation X and generation Y. As a result they do not have the same appeal with the millennial generation. This is also one of main reasons millennials tend to go for relatively new brands in comparison to those that have been built on targeting the generation that came before them. While some old-school brands have done well to re-invent themselves, such as the Old Spice viral commercials that sprung up a couple of years ago- most of the old players are out dated. My taking a slightly different approach and leveraging your new-to-the-market status you can present your brand as a more exciting, fun and consequently more engaging business in comparison to those that came before you.
- Do the same thing, only different
Just because you’re operating in a similar industry, doesn’t mean your product or services have to be similar in nature. As a new player, it goes without saying that you absolutely need to have some differentiating factors as compared to other businesses in the industry. Take the example of e-learning platform ZeoLearn. While e-learning itself is a relatively new (wait..its been more than 15 years!) industry, there are still old players and new ones taking flight each day. Knowing fully well what other platforms have to offer, new comer Zeolearn was able to differentiate itself by providing a mentorship more than an instructor led training session for its courses. Furthermore each of its courses is taught live by experienced professionals in the field. While you get tutorials on other websites, ZeoLearn offers live virtual classrooms, on an individual basis and in a group classroom setting. Same industry, drastically different approach.
- Have Better Customer Service
“Your call is important to us”…who doesn’t cringe when you hear a voice recording on customer support? Does your business really have to be the same way? No it doesn’t, and if you’re really trying to establish trust and break into an already dominated market, your best bet is to have kick ass customer service. You can do this in many ways, starting with not asking people to hold. The best part about having great customer service is that it need not be too expensive. You can set up a remote call center and train your customer support staff properly. You can have an online support chat feature that is very easy to integrate and cheap to operate. You can add even more value by following up with your customers in meaningful ways. Although this might sound simple, its probably more effective than any of the examples cited above. Consider the example of Zappos, a business that is now worth millions and it was only able to get there due to their exceptional focus on customer service.
Cited above are just some examples that can help you think in the right direction when entering a market dominated by giants. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to tactics you can use to gain the trust of your customers. However, as stated in the beginning, there’s never been a better time to establish a new brand and if you can win the trust of your customers, you will successfully be able to get a slice of that pie!