During the last two years, he must have met over a 200 startups or small enterprises. They have spent much time discussing their businesses and their actions in sales and marketing. What is derived is that businesses sometimes just try to copy what others are doing. Still, its important to understand where you are and what should be your way forward.
Low strength, new category
Unless you have an innovation that has good number of early adopters and are able to cover "The Chasm", the challenge is the toughest as the organization has the dual responsibility of education and brand awareness. Probably, there are not many opponents here. Airbnb is a good example of how they started a new category and today its almost the category. It addressed a latent need. They struggle on trying to spend only on brand awareness. They need to educate and build advocates at the preference and consideration stage. Conversion will take time. This is a long haul as the brand and the category needs to be built.
Low strength, mature category
Would e-commerce be a mature category depends on what you are selling. Consumers are aware of the different choices in the category or subcategory. The onus of innovation for the business is the biggest here. Bira91 in India focused on a crowded category like beers with innovation in flavor that consumers were missing. Most SME’s start in this as it seems easy as there is an existing market expecting immediate results and they try to copy strategy of what the stronger brands do in this category. For e.g., if Google Ads is working for the leading brand, it won`t work for you too as the CTR based on brand recognition would be very low. Building awareness through guerilla tactics is what’s needed. Expecting conversion with the same strategy that the stronger brands in the same segment uses will never bring results.
Great strength, new category
When a SME enters a new category, the easiest is to start with a category closely associated with the current one. The challenge is to have the right people as one may bring the learning of the older category to this and one wouldn’t have enough people in the new category to recruit to lead. For e.g., should a branding company advertise, or an event company get into marketing activations? Doing brand extension into a new category has to be thought through especially for an SME. When Amazon entered into cloud services with AWS in the early stage, that was comparatively easy, and investments began to flow. Unless it’s an allied service or product, brands avoid brand extensions and be sure of the investments required as there is education too.
Great strength, mature category
Bigger brands can do this easily compared to smaller brands. That doesn’t mean that established brands have privileges. Google entered the office productivity apps space late and had to price its product lesser than Microsoft office. They went cloud only model with basic requirements making working simultaneously on a sheet easier than Microsoft. The first use can be induced by free trials and giving Value Added Services. Be ready to burn a lot of cash. This is a tough space to be in irrespective of the size of your organization.
To summarize, what works for others does not feat you. Your marketing strategy needs to be different. Just because the leader in your category is doing Google Ads, that doesn’t mean that should be your plan. What you may need is building awareness through organic method. Do not expect any conversions till you have made considerable investments on awareness using the mix that’s best suited for you at that time of the journey. Be aware that making a customer care about your brand is a lot of effort. Understand them and target them with micro targeted ads. Maybe 1500 followers in your category is good enough and needs to be praised with a dedicated email program. Whatever be your goal, make sure you invest behind basic tools like Google Analytics so that you can understand if you are headed in the direction you want to. Vanity measures of likes, shares are useless for you.