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The saddest business story you’ll ever hear

This is a true story. It happened around 10 years ago…

I was living in a highly-populated area of Edinburgh. One day, I noticed a Turkish barbers had just opened. I thought to myself, “He’ll do well. He’s got a big market to himself.”

A week later, what did I see?

Another Turkish barbers opened. Literally across the street from the first guy.

I could picture it in my head: Each guy had a dream. He wanted to be his own boss, to open a shop in an untapped location with plenty of footfall, to get lots of customers and make a good living.

So he put together a business plan and took it to the bank. The bank agreed it was a sure thing, and lent him the money…

But, with two of them, they split the market and neither shop was particularly busy. They’re probably scraping by, not earning any more than they would working for someone else … but working longer hours and having debt hanging over them.

Not fun.

OK, so what’s the point?

Whatever idea you have for a business, someone else is going to have the same idea.

They might, like the barbers, have the idea independently. Or they might just see what you’re doing and want a piece of the action.

And this is particularly true online.

So how do you make it hard for them? How do you build a moat around your business so any attempt to seize your territory is likely to lead to failure?

One way is to build what I call “unique assets.”

These could include…

Online reviews and testimonials – these will give you credibility no new competitor can have.

Split-test the hell out of your Adwords ads – The higher your clickrate, the higher your quality score and the cheaper your clicks. Any new competitor would have to massively outbid you to have their ads appear before yours. Which means they’re burning through money…

Split-test the hell out of your web pages – The higher your conversion rate, the more you can spend to get a website visitor. A new site, which hasn’t had the benefit of testing, is likely to have a lower conversion rate. Which means they have a much lower breakeven cost per click.

Free content like reports, white papers, videos, podcasts – all of these can be used to drive traffic. Take time to build.

Media appearances – again, another credibility factor.

Customer and remarketing lists – People who already have a relationship with you. Nurture those relationships and continue to serve and sell to them.

Strategic partnerships and affiliates – people who will recommend your products and services. Again, take time to build.

These are just 7 things you can do to make life harder for your competitors. There are many others.

Start building them now. Believe me, one day, you’ll be glad you did.

Best wishes,

Steve Gibson

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