Apr
28

The Art of War: How to Get Ahead Against a Sea of Competitors. Part 1

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If you are a Web Host you have a lot of competition, more so if you are a new Host. The sheer amount of Hosts and resellers are, as yet, incalculable. Their audience is the billions of people across the globe who want to run a Web site, whether for personal or business reasons. You may say, “Well there are billions of people I can reach, I can be successful just by starting up a Web host service and saying here, I am.” Well think again.

There maybe be millions of Web Hosts out there, but there are a vast number of hosts who fail. The difference between success and failure is not up to chance, but up to you in identifying how you will fight for those customers. At the end of the day, there are those who have successfully fought this war of commerce and those who are causalities. If you apply the following principles, you too will be in the list of the former and not in the latter.

Building a Niche for your Company

When marketers say you need to create a niche or build a niche for your company it is not just throwing marketing jargon at you, hoping you will think that they are smart. It’s the fundamental principle of being successful. It involves knowing your company, your service, and clientele. If there are one hundred thousand Web Hosts out there that provide the same service you do, then you must compete against a one-hundred thousand Hosts, all things being equal, you will fail.

Specializing is the key to developing a niche. What can you do that the others cannot do? Or, even more simply, what can you do that few Hosts can? The more you specialize the more the target audience you cater too decreases, but the more your competition melts away. Let us look at the previous scenario, adding in this key principle.

You are a Budget Host who has one hundred thousand competitors. Now you decide that you understand how to help SMBs (small to mid-sized businesses) and you found a way to add database management services into your hosting packages. Instead of simply catering to their Web site you can help them put their human resources databases online.

Now instead of having one hundred thousand competitors you have ten thousand, which is more manageable, but still daunting. Since your new target audience is SMBs, what else can help them succeed? How about we add in collaboration services, product and service planning management tools, and maybe giving them a good email tool that works with mobile devices and is Web accessible to your list of services. These things do not come cheap so you increase the plan cost or allow your clients to opt- in these new services. Now your audience is SMBs who require tools that will help them with freelance employees, employees who work a lot on the road, or employees who work out of the home.

Your audience has decreased slightly, but the amount of competitors you face is now an easy hundred instead of the original one hundred thousand. That is what we mean when we say specialize and building a niche. By adding targeted services, you specialize your company, decreasing your competition, and you create a focus niche for your service.

Creating a Brand

Another catch phrase used in marketing is creating a brand. Like building a niche, creating a brand has many useful applications. For this, we will look to Layered Technologies. Layered has an excellent brand name that conveys a specific meaning to the customer. Layered means several abstract places conveying differing levels of depth. Technologies means a system of applied knowledge used to bring about aid and utility in a specific field. Layered Technologies provides their customers a series of levels that aids them in their endeavors. Now the cool part. By adding the term layer to the brand names, Layered Technologies can give the customer a system with a specific purpose. GridLayer and LayeredX being too examples of solutions targeted at a market that imparts the purpose of the brand and identifies it with the company.

A brand is merely a focus for the customer to identify with. It is a name, a motto, a logo, anything that imparts meaning to a product or service for the purposes of the customer to look at it at a glance and say I know what that is. Brand names should imply benefits and impart meaning.

When we need something to clean our ears we don’t say, “I need a cotton swab.” We say, “I need a Q-Tip.” The cotton swab could be a generic Wal-Mart type, but it will always be a Q-Tip in our minds. When we do a search for a site, we do not say, “I am going to use a search engine and find what I am looking for.” We say, “I am going to google it.” That is the pinnacle of branding. When the name of a brand circumvents the actual name of the product, then you know you have achieved greatness.

You do not have to circumvent a product’s name to achieve success. What you do need to do is get the name of your service into the customer’s head.

It starts with a single focus, the company. Our SMB hosting company is doing good so far, but it needs a good motto so when we look at the name we can get a micro version of what it means. Since it is targeted at businesses, the motto should be too. SMB Hosting means business. This motto has two definitions. It states that our host company is for businesses and the phrase “means business” has the connotation that our company does not fool around.

Now the services we off need to follow suit. Naming them A, B, and C hosting plans is nice and all, but if a customer looks at that they will scratch their heads saying what’s the difference. So we give them a name that helps the customer connect. A hosting plan is the ground floor plan. It has the lowest price, but an excellent array of features. So to brand it, we will call it Startup. A customer will now say, “I have a startup company that must be the plan I need.” This is how branding works it gives meaning to something for proper identification at a glance. Plan B was designed for companies who have an active group of employees who work far from the office. To further push that message we will call it the Road Warrior. It defines the plan as being for those who have employees on the road away from the front office. Warrior can be plugged back into the motto. We mean business, and warriors do not come to play tiddley winks. Plan C was designed for brick and mortar stores to have an online store. We will call that B&M Online. A brick and mortar store that is online.

With a few words, we convey a paragraph worth of meaning to potential customers allowing them to say, “Hey I know what I need.” That is the benefits of branding, a world of meaning in a tiny space.

Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of the first installment in the Art of War series. ‘Till then happy hosting!

Categories : The Art of War

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